Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Holy Cow! Tour
India 2008

As I mentioned, India was not ever on my here'swhereIwannago list. That's important because I had absolutely no expectations or anxieties about seeing certain things. So what I didn't expect and what literally took the wind out of my sails was really, really, really dirty air. Los Angeles back in the day didn't have the air that India does. In fact, environmental pollution is an issue in every single city, town and area of India. It's staggering and sobering. And whatever is said about good old Americans and their polluting hearts, I will henceforth take with a grain of salt because from what I have seen in Asia, we're the least of many, many serious problems. I digress.

Although I am genuinely sick by the time the car reaches our hotel, I am still very pleased and excited to be greeted by these Indian studs at the front door who proffer the traditional red spot and the marigold lei. Hello, indeed! The hotel is gorgeous and the people, all Indian, are gorgeously professional. And Madonna checks in, right after we do. Hello, hello, hello! Then I pick up the paper.

Seems that on New Year's morning very early, two couples left a party at another five star hotel in Bombay, the Marriott, and as they walked along the sidewalk to their cars, a mob of 80 men tore the women's western dresses off, held the men and raped the women. As the outrage in the city rises, the chief of police says the media overreacted. hello. A day or so later, in another province, a young teen age girl is taken from her home after school, raped and then burned. HELLO? are you kidding?

So I am in no mood to get too far away from our guide, Oxford-educated Bombay native now at NYU. I know of some really good bazaars around the corner and up a few blocks, but I do not venture out. I am quite happy to get on the bus with the tour and visit Gandhi's house.

And I actually really, really like that. There is so much about him I do not know and so much about British India that's fascinating in an almost ghoulish way. The downside is that I see Bombay from the bus, where I am still suffering mightily from the effects of the filthy, dirty air. The upside is that we visit a spectacular Jain temple, too.

Gandhi with Charlie Chaplin

Hello Bombay. I just didn't know.

The Maharani Jabel
On Location
Bombay India


The Fool said...

Hi Cheech. I have not known anyone that has travelled to India, so this report is a first take for me. Your portrayal comes as rather unexpected - it's rather stark. It is somewhat of an eye-opener. Then again, my first trip to the Outside - the Lower 48 - in twenty plus years was quite an eye-opener, too. I'd forgotten about billboards, massive consumerism, traffic congestion, "keeping up with the Joneses," and the effects of such. A change in context can be quite jarring. I look forward to hearing more.

toadman said...

Re: Pollution in newly industrialized countries - Like Mark Twain once said (paraphrased from memory): "Principals only matter when one is well fed." Give them time to grow...they'll come around, hopefully.

Also, I can't think of a spot on the globe that's NOT on my "here'swhereIwannago list." I'm weird that way. I'd be just as happy visiting smog smuggered Mumbai, as I would any crisp clean remote area. I love to try and adapt. But again, I'm weird that way.

Before I went to Africa to visit my parents in late 1990, someone said "Man. Why would you even WANT to go to Kenya?" My answer was "Why not?" I sincerely couldn't think of anything that would keep me from it...even smog, unrest, terrorism. Nothing.

Keep up this journal JBelle...I wanna hear more. Someday, I'll go there and make my own report as well...hopefully.

PDX Pup said...

AAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE! MADONNA! (the smog and crime and stuff sucks too, and I realize this makes me incredible shallow, but...) AAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! IT'S MADONNA!

(and yes, I know I've already expressed this is a sentiment to you over the phone)

Carla said...

Wow! wow, wow, wow! That seems like something else. I guess I won't be heading that direction unless I'm accompanied by my full entourage. Although China was extremely polluted, I must say that I always felt very safe, even if out alone. Perhaps I was naive, but I never ever worried about my safety in China. But it must have been quite the experience.

Inland Empire Girl said...

Again, I am seeing a new perspective on this country. Sad to say, but the picture reminded me of growing up in Kellogg with the smelter smoke blocking the sunshine.

Anonymous said...

Mother India.
Not all mothers are alike.
Mother India.
Regardless of the external weather, your maiden heart beats strong.
Mother India.
Divine peace lives through your people.

Oh that I one day get to kneel and kiss that ground.


MarmiteToasty said...

Oh JBelle what a missed vision you have left in me head this morning... jebus woman, you have such a way with your words as to transport the reader into the thick of the vision....

more more more please :)


MarmiteToasty said...

missed = misted....... jebus thats what only 2 hours sleep does for ya lol...