Bittersweet Bangalore

What is beauty?

I think anyone pointing out observations about India from this perspective would be totally irrelevant, because as we know that is relative to the eye of the beholder. India is a land of contrasts in many senses, weather it is income distribution (gap between the rich and the poor) or a picture of something astonishing beautiful next to something amazingly disgusting.

I normally question foreigners who openly say “I love India” because I find it hypocrite. Let me explain… it is very hard to make a generalization about what you really love about India, and many times I have been able to prove that people not totally like India itself, but their lifestyle here, which is something very different.

Can you openly say that you like chaos, disorder, lack of application of basic civic rules, the poorest people on Earth begging for money on the streets, cows (supposedly sacred) eating rubbish and people peeing on he streets? On the other hand you have the beautiful landscapes, beaches, exotic towns, festivals, traditions and the most kind and warm people in the world. Can you really include both sides of the picture when you say “I love India”… I can’t.

Now, try to picture a foreigner coming here and receiving any kind of flirts, invites out, bombarded with Facebook friends requests, getting in with priorities to clubs and restaurants (many times over locals), free drinks, your picture of last night’s party in the morning’s newspaper, etc. Who doesn’t like a little attention (that perhaps you don’t even get in your own country)… that is easy to love, isn’t it? (Bear with me on this last statement since I am writing something more elaborated about the different profiles of foreigners and their impressions of India, which are directly related to whether they travel, work or intern and the time spent here. It makes a lot of difference.)

This is why “Do you like India?” has become the most difficult question I have ever been asked. I do love my life here, my job, my friends, my colleagues, the opportunity to travel, explore and discover. All the funny stories, luxuries like affording repeated fancy nights out for drinks and dinner with friends, having your shirts ironed for three rupees, the mechanic that fixes my scooter for $4.00 usd, the breakfast, groceries or wine delivery. And yes, the endless quest of trying to understand Indian sociology, culture, religion and traditions to compare with mines. This last one in particular I sincerely love…

So this is my interpretation of the “bipolarity” of what being in India has meant to me. At the end anyone can say whatever they want and I am no one to judge, but it’s just that I’d rather remain a consistent honest person, than a popular hypocrite being accepted for the wrong reasons in a country that treats you like a rockstar just for being different.

But that’s just me…

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  1. Top 100 Exchange and Experience Blogs 2012

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    On behalf of bab.la and the Lexiophiles language blog

  2. Hey Ernst, I spent a year in India and I’d like to look at what you said from another perspective. Traveling India as an African gave me an insight that I don’t most visitor have. I did not get most of the preferential treatment most visitors get but I did observe in India in my own way.
    What I can say also from other travels in Europe and Latin America is that places just “are”. In this sense some people will say they hate a place or they love it but that’s just how the place is and you make a choice. However, having said that in my perspective one can see the positive of a place appreciate it and take it in. On the other had on seeing the negative they can empathize. recognize it and let it give them a balanced view of the place so that they don’t live their experience through rose colored glasses.
    But I hope that you do love India because there is as I said the current state and the potential, and for me the recognition that something does not have to stay as it is but can become something greater with people who love it trumps the negatives of its current state especially when it shows efforts of becoming that great thing.

    1. Hey, thank you first of all for reading and making this comments. Actually the thing I most agree with you is the fact that your interaction with a country is totally dependent on many variables, this is why I point also weather if someone is travelling, intering, working and certainly many other aspects such as ethnicity. I remember when I was living in Italy they used to tell me I looked like south Italian, therefore I never felt like a foreigner and it helped me interact with the country in my own way. In any case, it all depends on how you shape yourself to live in a country, your background, own traditions, etc. and how you confront them with a new culture. The “shock” depends on many things and it is relative to each person at an individual level. Thank you again for your comments!

  3. IX12: Voting starts today!
    Dear Ernst,

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  4. Marta I haven’t forgotten about you I need time to answer you!

    • Eva
    • February 4, 2012

    I totally agree with you… But people must experience what we experienced here to really understand this bipolarity and to be less hypocrit. An experience at 360degrees can completely change your point of view, not only for India but for the whole world.

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  6. @Marta… Hi Marta i don’t know if you remember posting this, and sorry if it took me so long to reply, I’m now in Italy after a year in Bangalore.

    I think if I would like to write about the “beauty” of India iw wouldn’t be able to describe it as well as you did in your reply 🙂

    It is true that the magic of India lies beneath many layers of many things that could be perfect excuses for hating India, but only if you are willing (or daring ) to, you will be able to experience some of things you said. For good or bad, i still can’t say I love India for all the reasons I described, but I do know I took a lot of that country with me and it certainly changed the way I am, at least inside. Unfortunatelly for me I was not able to go back to my country (México) to see how it really changed me in my own context, with my friends who know me from years and years, etc. So now I’m in Italy on my own still trying to absorb the whole experience which back in Blr it seem endless, but today I feel like if it had been a very very short time. In any case, if I had to chose to live that experience knowing how difficult it would be, I would still take the same decision of going.

    Thank you again for writing, it’s great to find people who can share their experience in such an emotional way as you did and this makes me happy because it’s few of us who are lucky enough to have lived such an experience and it’s good to feel understoon in many ways 🙂

    If you ever visit Rome give me a ring I would love to have a coffee over India

    Ernesto

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