Friday, November 27, 2009

Exasperation, Indian Hospitality And Why I Hate Train Rides in India

Train Commuters. This photo only courtesy of London's The Sun newspaper

Imagine yourself travelling straight for 2 days. Then upon reaching the station, you roam round the station - of Gorakhpur, to be exact - with not much help from anybody. Four hours later, you find out that the ticket booth you need is nowhere within the station - it is half a kilometer away. Then, you queue for 2 hours, and during this queue, idiotic Indians go past you with chin up the air! Finally, you miraculously get a train seat that leaves the station in 3 hours. So you relax, and wait for 3 hours!

You find out that you get a lower berth - yipee! - a seat beside the window, which means that at bedtime, you dont have to climb up the 2nd and 3rd tier beds! You earned it! You waited the whole day long. You paid for your ticket! You queued for 2 HOURS to acquire the darn ticket! Then, bedtime comes, and this other Indian passenger tells you that you go up the upper berth! TELLS! Not request! Tells! Just because they have a child with them!

Would you give up your seat and be miserable for the next 10 hours of bedtime?

I have so many stories of train rides in India - everyone have loads of stories to tell - and almost nothing comes off very pleasant. Let me not even begin with the lingering smell to be politically correct! Then a berth area of 8 persons will suddenly be occupied by 16! Oh yes! 16 all squeezed in! When the seat arrangement gives me an upper berth, I am disciplined enough to take my seat! But these Indian retards always have reasons why they feel you SHOULD give up your seat! And you're the mean bastard for opting not to give it up for their gold-plated masala arses.

Understand: You are the tourist, you don't speak the language, and everything that you do in India has greater degrees of difficult. You queue and reserve your seats and pay over-inflated rates lovingly entailed for foreigners, so then why should you give up your comfortable seat? Why should you be miserable? Well, that's Indian Hospitality 101! And you wonder why the whole country is in chaos?
These people LIVE in this country. They can reserve their own choice seats anytime they want without the hindrance of language or loss of translation.

Listen again: I love the country. It's my 2nd consecutive year after all, but I feel this will be my last - unless the heavens open and take my word back! I don't come to India coz they have an amazing people (although my Indian friends are spectacular souls). India has some of the most awesome sights, temples, colorful rites and traditions that I've ever known; but a good number of its people is in dire need of a refresher course on discipline and hospitality! People need to be taught grace inspite of poverty or desperation.


For 3 instances today, I bought something and couldn't get my change back! 1st, a lady selling bananas by the roadside - I asked how much, she said 10 rupees for a set of 4. I gave 20 rupees, and she removed 1 banana from the bunch and wouldn't give me my change. I shouted NO! 2nd, a vendor selling this incredibly delicious cookies I always buy in Paharganj. I asked how much and chose the 30 rupee option. I gave 50, and he only gave me 10 rupees for my change. Duh! I asked why, and he simply waved his head and gave my bunch-of-cookies an extra 1 piece - ONE! For the 10 rupee that he STOLE! It is stealing when it isn't yours, is it? Finally, a rickshaw driver and I agreed on a price of 50 rupees to get me to a place. I gave a hundred but he wouldn't give my change back! Such a greedy scamming lot!

I don't want them rolling red carpets for me, but I don't want them to take advantage of my inability to speak the language either; of my ignorance of the place. I remember now how my Swiss doctor friend got so upset just telling me her experience in Delhi. The very same experience relayed to me by Jan from Prague who I met while I was traveling around Myanmar 8 months ago. Heaven help these people!
There is a very valid reason why tourists should be paranoid in India, and if you are the type who love adventures of dodging the crafty, by all means, India is your place.
I have nasal congestion as I speak, but this doesn't prevent me smelling the oppressive stink emanating everywhere around Connaught's Place. This majestic place stinks of URINE! I don't have to tell you where a great number of people urinate when the urge arrives. After all, India is their errr... toilet!

This is the exasperated Eye in the Sky!


So what happened to my train ride? I didn't budge. The lady won't go up the upper berth either so she opted to sleep on the floor. I offered the extra space beside me for her child, so for the next 8 hours of slumbertime, a 2 year old child slept beside me. I couldn't sleep coz I was afraid the child might fall off the bed. He would have these involuntary twitches that seemed like minor seizures. I love kids. It was a pleasure to sleep with a dark little angel breathing and sleeping innocently beside me. I was a nanny for several hours that freezing night. But you see, having a child is no reason to take other people's reserved seats. What, you didn't realize you had a child with you, so you'd rather impose your presence on other people? Amen.

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