eliot & drew bike through india for 3 months, trying to inconspicuously do some good in the world.

There was an error in this gadget

Monday, March 8, 2010

The country wave

Amid our disagreements, we (Drew and I) have come to one conclusion about our travels in India: more often than not, we enjoy the country over the city. Being both wide-open-space-o-philes, this is no big news, but although we have met some genuine people in the city (folks at Anjali Inn, Rakesh, Shipla), more often than not one can set their mind at ease out there rather than in here.

Cities in India have a tendency to amplify the structural weaknesses in the country, as they can with most countries. If it's not a tourist city like those in Goa, then it's a worker city like Ratnagiri or Mumbai. Tourist cities tend to be cleaner but attract and encourage shady business and dilute the validity of the once famous thing you came here to see. It's hard to enjoy the fabulous beaches of Goa when someone is hawking towels or hash at you every five minutes, or when wading through the sea of old sunburnt Brits and Russians or neuvo-hippies fighting for space and trying to rekindle the old hippy hollow days.

On the other hand, in non-tourist cities like Ratnagiri, it's a shuffle through heaps of trash and filth and traffic, gathering supplies or checking email. Again, genuinely kind and welcoming peole exist in both environments, as they do out in the country, however when given the choice over fame and covenience versus quiet and limited choices, I'll take the latter.

Again, this isn't a city bash; they are exciting and important to the national identity, etc. However, while sitting atop a hill overlooking a river bend high inthe western Ghatts, or waking up on the beach where nary a person nor building can be seen, or watching the sun set from a dusty desert road on the sea, I'm sure you'll agree, things are better in the country. People are very nice, not overburdened by tourists wanting to see the slum tour or trying to buy bottled water or toilet paper. But then again, Indians are magical in that they tend to be open, helpful and kind to a couple of vagabond gringos any day of the week, city or country. So beneath this argument for the rurals, there is a wink to the Indians, who have such big hearts that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you are, as long as you're with one of them.

-Eliot and Drew
Ghost Runners


No comments:

Post a Comment