You have to travel to India not to understand! What an amazing place when it comes to breath-taking natural scenery, to the architecture, to all the different cultures, languages and religions, not forgetting the succulent and mouth-watering food. And, of course, all the wonderful people! Everyone we met while on business in Mumbai, Delhi and Chandigarh last week were open, intelligent, warm-hearted and extremely generous.
But there’s a back side to everything. According to BBC World News, India has three basic and underlying problems, poverty, refuse and traffic. And we saw lots of these. The poverty is quite indescribable and it’s tempting to look the other way, to deny its existence. The traffic in the major cities is just impossible to comprehend if you haven’t actually been there and experienced it, with all sorts of vehicles, taxis, passenger cars, busses, decorated trucks, three-wheelers, motorcycles, cycles, pedestrians, cows and all sorts of other creatures, jousting for any free space available in front of them to be able to make progress towards wherever they may be heading. And that incessant honking of horns. There´s rubbish everywhere, newspapers, packages, plastic bottles, wood, cement, broken pottery, electrical cables, whatever, all lying along the sides of the roads, in the ditches, on the pavements and virtually everywhere there’s any space available to be able to drop litter. And there are, of course, virtually no waste paper bins anyway.
We thought we might be able to contribute here by recycling grease drums as waste collectors (something we learned in the Rock Garden of Chandigarh), but we suddenly realised that that wouldn’t help at all since no-one would empty them. And last but not least, something completely different, the question of punctuality. Nothing seems to start or finish on time. Perhaps understandable due to the traffic situation and everyone seems to have (needs to have) a laid-back attitude to this. One shining example was that busses taking us to a conference event were scheduled to leave our hotel at “about 6.30 sharp”. So India is indeed incredible. Such a wonderful, diverse and completely disorganised place.
Graham, February 2014