by Valerio Gori
This time I write in English. Explaining the reason is not relevant. It would be the very same note in whatever other language, if the reader is sincerely interested in getting the heart of the matter. Nonetheless, as this is not my first language, please go over mistakes and misusage of words. I am no writer. Nor I would want to be.
For the last few days I had no chance to keep the blog up to date. Monsoon caused continuous and frequent blackouts and my possibility to connect to the Internet was then compromised. No big deal. Only a few remarkable events happened and I took note of them so that my memory does not have to hold the responsibility of storing them for too long. That is something of a certain relevance when genetics claim you as a potential Altzheimer affected person in the next decades.
Today we leave from Pushkar. We spent here way too much time to visit it, yet just enough to recover from our tireness. At the end it was too much of a touristic place, where nonetheless we found some India too jumping on a random farmers’ truck for a lift or waiting for the sun to shine after the monsoon into the dirtiest restaurant of the city. But this is not today’s topic.
Pushkar is connected to the rest of India through Ajmer, the closest city, located few kilometres SE. And here it starts the post: from Ajmer train station.
Being early in stations guarantees that trains are not missed, but raises the question on how to fight the boare. Travelling in two, it is quite easy to keep ourselves occupied as we wait for time to pass by. For example, we play cards. But we need to be sitted down to play. Fortunatly stations have waiting rooms. And in the waiting room of Ajmer station we found C.
C is an English man, on his thirties. He studied history. Asian history for what concerns us. A few years ago he started to travel. He went to Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand and all SEA. He enjoyed his staying in these places. Then, this summer, he came to India.
When I first saw C I knew something strange was on. He was the only white guy in the room and, as we got in, he freed the two seats close to him from his stuff. He was clearly holding too much load on himself to be confortable, but he seemed to feel some sort of homesickness. And we represented the closest thing to home he could get. He has been in India for a few weeks and only five days were left before heading back to Manchester. Five days… Five days were more than he could stand. One last thing he whished to see – the Golden Temple – than he would have spent the rest of the time in his hotel room. It seems weired to hear it this way, but it maked sense when he started to describe all reasons that brought him to act so weirdly. India is not a country that lets you enter within its culture, if some remains. Tourism and money corrupted it in such a way that you can never be more than a bag of money on two legs. No respect, no long-term orientation. There is no order in the way you are thricked and played for a fool. Can take pictures of ruins. Can take pictures of people. But cannot really get part of their life and, moreover, the possibility to reach the historical and cultural heritage of India is compromised. Nothing similar ever occurred to him. Nor in Cambodia, not in any other country.
Hearing these words I felt lucky of my few, genuine experiences here, but, at the same time, I was not able to dissent completely. And I felt sad. Sad for him. Sad for India. Not for me, though. I had my share of genuine India. It was enough. But I knew how he felt. He was just more sensitive than I am. And he suffered the fact that he was disrespected as a person. Because he was no person: he was money. And he was not referring to baggers, which might be justified by their lot. All types of indians seemed to act the same way, even government rail officers, apparently.
He was overwhelmed by all sort of people surrounding him, invading his privacy, touching, pushing, talking one over the other. Ruining its opportunity to see India. And he could do nothing more than leave. So he did. And with all the sadness and anger in his soul he told me “there is no worst place than India”.