I am a tourist here but in the 2.5 weeks caught up with some daily observations that I had to capture to remember – this is how people live here:
- One word – cows! I will not get over the wandering cows everywhere, traffic, streets, shops, trash eating plastic. We started to call them smart cows b/c these things are uber smart. They will open a trash can, they start looking for food at 9 pm when everyone is inside, they will wait to cross the road. I call them the “zen cars” because absolutely nothing will irritate them. They are the calmest animals in the craziest and loudest traffic in the world.I think there is about 50 cow pictures on my camera… in every position or activity.
- Traffic – I thought I knew what to expect but given the infrastructure in Allahabad is a bit behind the typical metropolitan cities, it far exceeded my expectations of chaos. The drivers are my heroes as we have seen pretty much everything – no respect for any lanes, every animal including elephant, cows sleeping, motorbike with 4 small children on 3 adults, people hanging on vehicles… traffic going all directions, across the barriers. Add the fact they drive on the left and the idea of crossing the road is about as appealing as walking to a wasp nest.
- Men – not a topic I’d usually discuss but based on my previous posts, I think you get the message. I cannot wait to get back to some level of anonymity where no one pays attention to me. Newspapers, media, 90% of the male population when I walk anywhere, on bikes or in cars when I am in a car, in restaurants, in the gym – my team mates are making fun of me that I have a following. I asked my Indian colleague if this is because I am white or tall or why? His thought was that because I look different and people here do not see non-Indians ever.
- Women – inspiring, smart and in generally just rock stars. There are very very few of them – almost none in service jobs (1), almost none at government roles (2), almost none in stores or restaurants – just nowhere to be found working. But the few ones we met (engineer, government administrator, doctor) were unbelievable and I hope they run this place one day. My favorite quote from one of them when I asked her about the biggest challenge was “managing men”. You go ladies ! I wish I could take pictures of them but they were all very shy or scared…
- Food – love Indian but boy am I looking forward to some unprocessed, non-simmered, fresh food. No salads, no seafood, not much fruit – everything is suspicious mostly for hygiene reasons. So, aloo ghobi, mutton, chicken, tikka, sizzlers, dhal – for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Safe to say that if I didn’t go to gym everyday, I’d weigh about 20 more lbs.
I am all packed to go home tomorrow but more coming!