Jun 19, 2010

Incredible India

I love traveling.

Well, most people do, and in a time when travel is a way of life, it is a fashionable thing to mention in resumes and 'About Me' sections online.
Tourism is a huge industry and unlike most other industries, tourism can propel an entire economy into the 'first world'.

India, unfortunately has a few black horses.
While states like Kerala and Goa have been the Toppers in the Class, the same cannot be said of the other states that pretend to be tourist friendly but instead cannibalize their travelers.

I am a fairly prolific traveler. However I am a careful and a very cautious traveler too. Am very skeptical about overly friendly co passengers, abhor passengers who put up and attitude and ignore those of them who show off their gadgets and supposed wealth.
I have a gift of being able to grasp the local language of the place I am visiting and that has saved me a lot of times.

Of all the places that I have traveled, my least favorite place is Hyderabad!
Sweltering heat and an almost unending need for water. If you are headed that way, be prepared to stay in an air conditioned room inside. The buses are archaic and public transportation is utter chaos. Not that it is different from the other parts of Incredible India, but what the heck!

Locals in places that I've visited often think that if you talk in English and look "forward", that they can relieve you of your wallet's content. Nevermind their smile and polite manners, they will unabashedly make sure you part with as much money as they can. All this unless you are cautious and prudent.

Sometimes, paranoia and lack of good sense can get the better of you.

You could miss out on the good stuff. India is not a Sweden or a Switzerland. And it can never be one either. However it is a land of extremes. You can travel to just across the border and a lot of curious anomalies and strange traditions. Bombay, one of my favorite places to travel to is fast paced and very practical. Kerala, one of my favorite holiday spots is exactly the opposite. The people there are neither fast paced nor practical. Keralites in Kerala are a sluggish lot. Most businessmen who start businesses are smart and intelligent, but some of them start a business for the wrong reasons. They simply hate to work under a boss. And whatever little zeal that they had quickly evaporates and fails to make up for the utter lack of business acumen.
They fail to capitalize on opportunities that knock and their ventures will die a natural demise.

India has its quirks too and while you can see towering examples of well thought out infrastructure, you will also see shoddy remains of poor civic work. Its like that oft quoted statement: "Examples of ancient culture coexisting with modern architecture..".

Its that rat race for more money, that has relegated us to the Third World/Developing Nation bin.

When per capita, our growth could have been as good as that of the US of A, we have corrupt leadership and politicians on the one hand an agrarian society that does not take care of its farmers.

But there's hope. Though not a revolution, I can sense a movement. A slow awakening of the youth to the real issues that plague this land. What we now need is a real Leader. A charismatic Leader of the Young.

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country"
This Speaker exhorted that we as humanity fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself. This statement is as relevant as it was 30 years ago as it is now and unless we shed our colonial hangup, shake the dust of excuses and pull up our socks we will always be as defenseless as drunk man on an Indian road.
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