Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh the Joys of Traveling

Ok, so part of my goal is to give you all a glimpse into Indian culture and my time here. If you want more than a glimpse you will have to come here and enjoy India in all it's glory! I'm gonna start off with the local transportation. With a population of 1,155,347,700-ish people with more than 60% living in rural areas, transportation is a big issue..and apparently has improved immensely over the years.
So everyday I have to take the local transportation to and from Shanti Ashram and it is an adventure every time! To be honest I'm not a huge fan, but I'm getting used to it, on a good day it takes about 50 minutes, on a bad day 2 hours. Basically we fit as many people as humanly possible onto a bus. It's actually quite amusing that at the front of the bus it says that the max capacity is 88...we get at least double that on a daily basis. Just when you think that there is not any room left the bus stops to pick up 10 more women. The women are in the front and the men are in the back, and they get on the bus through different entries. To be honest i think the women are much more ruthless than the men, especially the school girls and the old ladies. You would think that these sweet little old ladies were fragile...wrong! They throw elbows like nobody's business. Also, people generally don't form lines/obey the "American rules" of waiting in line. I'm trying to understand the cultural aspect of this...but I haven't come up with anything yet. Until then my blocking out skills from basketball are very useful.
That being said, people are VERY honest and willing to help. For example, it's proper bus manners to hold somebody else's bag if they are standing and you are sitting. People also take other people's money to hand to the bus assistant and give them back their change. I've even had people open my bag, pull out my money and then put it back for me when I was standing couldn't reach it. This is a very positive part of Indian culture that you don't see very often today especially in the US. Also, it is expected that EVERYONE pays when they get on the bus. Everyone wants to pay the assistant and will be sure to do it before getting off the bus. If it weren't for this aspect of honesty I don't think that bus assistant would ever be able to charge everyone because there are so many people on the bus. I don't think I've ever really been worried about someone stealing from me. I'm always careful of course, because there are different types of people in every culture. But i have been cheerfully surprised by how honest people seem to be here.
I try to blend in but unfortunately I stick out like a sore thumb. Whenever I go places I become very aware at the fact that people are staring at me.Hahaha.....there is a cute little boy in the neighborhood where we live and he is completely afraid of us. His older sisters try to hold him and bring him to touch us but he absolutely will not do it. He will stare wide-eyed until he gets about 2 feet away from us and then he starts crying. I guess we look VERY different even in Salwars.
Anyway, these are some of my experiences. Until next time!

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