November 27, 2012


We were at a housewarming party. Standing with me was a Dutch lady, a French gentleman, an American lady and our British host for the evening. 
Our Brit friend has been making the most of his time here, going out into the city, meeting new people, celebrating the festivals and generally having a good time. He seems to take everything in his stride, and not get into the ponderous nitty-gritties of what happened and why. Probably a good attitude to have when oceans apart from home in a country radically different to your own. He was telling us about the Ram lila celebrations he witnessed during Dussehra and how the cops let him into the VIP arena without a pass because he was a foreigner. It had been an experience he wouldn't forget.
At this point the Dutch lady took off about Indians, and how bad her experience has been here, how everyone says one thing and does another, how everyone oggles at her, language is a problem, everyone is so inefficient, and you get the picture. She put her hand into her pocket and pulled out her cellphone, saying 'Does this happen to you when you order pizza?' The text message she showed me read 'Hello mam. I took yr ordr. How r u njoying? Will u like 2 spk?' Domino's seemed to be changing their service style. I told her this had never happened to me or anyone I knew, but she wasn't really listening. She was already narrating other harrowing incidents to the American lady, who by this time was rather tipsy, and started telling me not to have children for another 5 years. I don't think she absorbed (or cared for) the full magnitude of Dutch angst that was being vented. The Frenchman happily offered everyone wine every ten minutes, and contributed to the discussion in delightful French-accented expletives and admiring gasps that ze pizzah man try thees.
Looking around I realized that one's experience of travel really is so closely intertwined with one's personality. No matter where you go or what you do, if you're wired a certain way your experience is bound to be affected by it. There are some who come to India willing to immerse themselves fully into the madness and chaos of it, letting the good experiences stay with them and the bad ones fade away such that later when they recall them it is with humour. There are others who vow never to return to this land of crazies. Either way, I imagine India to be as much of a shock to the senses as Europe is to mine. I cannot judge - we are everything the Dutch lady said. But, there is so much more to the country that someone like her will never grasp, that our friend the Brit will enjoy and laugh about and take back to England. 
How we travel - it says so much more about us than we think.


  1. We're a sensory explosion and we love it. Those who don't, can go back home. Hee. :P

    1. I was itching to say that she could leave whenever she wanted. But I guess she's unhappy enough without me being nasty at a party!


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