Smog, shorts and privacy policies

Before we started our doctor’s tour on Monday afternoon we spent an hour around the Gate of India, I in shorts and T-shirt, knowing that this is actually a no-go in India for women, but I had no choice since I had to get my only pair of long trousers washed that day. By the end of the day I felt so embarrassed that I now rather wear dirty or wet trousers, people even took pictures of us!!!

Extremely irritating is the smog in Delhi. We’ve never experienced anything like this and by now we try to avoid being outside. We hardly see the sun and the ten days we’ve been in Delhi now we had only one full day we could see blue sky. The smog is very smelly because it is not only caused by car and industry exhaust, but by burnt garbage. Johan keeps asking me if we will breathe fresh morning air in India as we were used to during our short stay in Empfingen :). I doubt it. And from the newspapers we learned that this year’s smog is the worst ever and that the different governments of the surrounding states blame each other for causing the smog – instead of acting!

Very funny is the ‘no privacy  policy’ in India. People touch you and if you are queuing the European way someone would just squeeze in between. In supermarkets you never know where the queue ends and who’s turn it is next. And if you are standing at a counter and think there is just space for you, no worries, at least three more Indians fit in there as well :-)). The other day two motorbikes stopped at a traffic light next to our rickshaw, one on the left and one on the right, and they would just stare at us for minutes, and it wasn’t the day when I was wearing my jams. We felt like fish in an aquarium and are really curious if this will get better or worse when we are leaving Delhi for the less touristic areas of the country where they maybe have never seen any tourists. An interesting experience for sure and on the other hand for once I don’t feel bad if I stare at people! We can also easily take people’s pictures, they usually don’t mind, on the contrary, the are often approaching us and want their picture taken, children and adults are posing for us!

Indians are multi-tasking. Everywhere and always. They never can just do one thing at a time. The person at the cashier needs to ‘handle’ three customers at the same time, that’s the least, if possible, more people should come in between. Drivers need to be on the phone while driving (same as in Europe by the way), everybody has to have at least two to three cell phones of which one is ringing and another one is at the ear. Nurses have to explain procedures to the patient and at the same time take instructions from another nurse, the guesthouse manager is talking to you while giving instructions to the laundry man, sharing the WiFi code with another guest and picking up the phone. Unfortunately the multi-tasking doesn’t make them more efficient.

I’ve been to India many times traveling for business which usually meant 5-star hotels, pick-up services and nice colleagues taking care of me all day. I then of course also noticed the extreme contrasts and returned home rather shocked after the first trip, having seen the poverty around the corner in its worst. But it is very different to live the way we do now and just be in the midst of everything.

We have to admit that after more than ten days on the Subcontinent we are still struggling and it is hard for us to get adjusted and used to the unknown. We are working hard on it, really!


5 thoughts on “Smog, shorts and privacy policies

  1. I guess many people found me crazy going 5 weeks to Senegal living the local way – no running water or electricity; but after having seen the 5* side of things, it is so healthy and eyeopening. This is how you really feel and learn the country. These memories staybwith you for life whereas a cocktail at the pool is soon forgotten 🙂 Hope you get to see blue sky though!

  2. Incredible India they said, remember? I have always been told that India really is another world. For better, or worst. You seem to confirm it. As for the obnoxious people, you should try French waiters some times! 🙂

    Hope you make it out of the smog soon. I am sure the scenery will change for the best as you head out into the country side.

    How is the knee, by the way?

    Take care!

  3. Dear Baerbel,
    I have not been very present on your blog till now, but still i read it and I think of you a lot… It is SO great what you are living! Take care of you, enjoy…I will be reading you all the way.

    Delphine Ardant
    (Delord from Beauval Zoo…)

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