Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Returning to India

Going back to India is one thought I constantly flirt with. Often, I think of going back when I retire(at 65yrs of age) and spending time with my family and friends. But then I also have doubts about my ability to adjust to life in India…Can I tolerate the crowds, noise, traffic, the water shortage, electricity cuts, phone line breakdowns, standing in long lines for even simple things…Can I put up with the corruption, giving bribes every step of the way? Can I put up with people’s rudeness, the gender inequality(gender inequality may not affect me much when I am 65 I hope! ) the hierarchy even in places where hierarchy should  not matter and so many other things? Can I, once again become a ‘constantly vigilant’ person instead of being relaxed and trusting like in Canada? I took ages to relax in Canada and give up being vigilant;  If I return to India, I will have to  revert to being hyper-vigilant again, just to survive! One more thing which depresses me is the thought of having cockroaches, rats and mosquitoes again in my home and kitchen! And the termites. I do not mind the sparrows,lizards, geckos& ants which invade Indian homes, but I do hate the roaches and rats.
What are the other things I may have to put up with if I return to India I wonder? I may not get all the crime fiction thrillers I am addicted to. But who knows. At 65, I may  no longer be into crime fiction and I  may be  into philosophy and there are plenty of philosophy books available in India.
I understand that lots of American television serials are now aired in India and this makes me happy. I only hope they do not have too many ads  during these shows and stretch a one hour serial into two hours in India.
Food would not be a problem in India. I love Indian food and eating out in Bangalore is the one great joy I look forward to when I return.
I know, that I would have a fantastic time with my friends as we share the same tastes and attitudes and have similar sense of humor. In fact, friends & family are a major part of what I  I miss about India, especially the humor. I am unable to share jokes with my Canadian friends. I tend to be politically correct and hardly ever joke and miss the wonderful humor in India with my friends and colleagues.For example, the anti Brahmin jokes I poked at my husband(he’s a B) and the anti-Gowda jokes my husband and his friends told me(I am a G), are memories I still cherish. Since nearly all of the humour I enjoy is politically incorrect, my lips are virtually zipped up in Canada!
Passing time would not be a problem in India, as even simple things seem to take the whole day in India(Bangalore) thanks to the traffic jams, frequent electricity cuts which interfere with everything and  going to at least three shops to get one item.
There definitely would be no boredom in India as there is always something going on, even if things going on are more troublesome than good things. Accidents, strikes, variety of crimes, variety of things which will frustrate you, anger you but definitely not bore you. Even standing in long lines in India is not boring as you are constantly on the vigil to see that someone does not crash the line!
If I go back what would I do?  I want to enjoy life and not really do anything worthwhile such as eradicating illiteracy and so on. I am one of those who wants to enjoy life; I am not one of those who wants to save the world.
 I  have a few fantasies about what I would do with my life in India. One is I will open a book library and sit there and chat with the members of the library. I will ask my relatives abroad to ship out books to me and I will run this; It will be of great service to Bangaloreans who love reading English books and cannot afford to buy. I would love to run my library(or used book store) Of course, with the ebooks, I am not sure how viable this idea would be 20-25 years from now, in Bangalore.
Another dream of mine is to make a retreat on my father’s agricultural land(His land is useless for growing crops thanks to poor soil conditions and absent monsoons and absent ground water…even if you had ground water, there is no regular electricity to run the motor pumpsets and if you had that, you have people stealing the pumpsets, worth thousands of rupees. As far as agriculture goes, it’s a lose-lose situation.)
 I am hoping the water available would be enough for a retreat, even though it is not enough for crops. The retreat would be an unusual one with limited electricity, dry toilets, snakes and scorpions biting  residents who step out at night without lights; simple village food and no luxuries. This would be more of a military retreat than a comfortable luxirious one! The entertainment is climbing the nearby mountains, visiting nearby farms and observing agricultural work including silk rearing. Not much other entertainment here. Of course, you have the hot sun, blue skies, cool breezes, coconut trees, some agricultural lands to see. Nothing else.
Or, I could plant Tulsi plants (Basil)in large quantities and export it to Germany or some place (even in India, there is demand for Tulsi). Tulsi, does not need much water, it is in great demand by ayurvedic medicine producers and others and I am hoping, it will not be stolen by the thieves who hopefully will not find many buyers in the village itself. Or some other plants which will not be stolen by the villagers and which will yield money when I sell.
I could convert this retreat into a  Yoga retreat or an artists retreat where artists, stay for a few weeks, and do what they want…paint, sculpt, pottery, whatever possible.
Another plan is to travel all over India photographing places, temples, etc. India is fantastic and a million times better than Canada or USA, when it comes to richness of history, architecture, mythology, arts and handicrafts, etc.
A dream of mine is to collect local artifacts and build museums in all taluks which display history of that Taluk. I believe every village and taluk should be be represented in the museum so that everyone feels a sense of pride and belonging and feeling of  being ‘important enough to be’ represented in the museum. Museums which are free and accessible to all; which hive the history of our trades, agriculture, kings, castes, customs, food, clothes, history of true facts, even the ugly facts, will make people aware of themselves.
Spreading awareness about child mental health, the importance of not traumatizing kids is another thing I would like to work on if I ever settle in India. In Canada, there are several departments under various ministries and fantastic funding to take care of child mental health. But in India, it is rudimentary at best…the funding, the trained personnel, the policies, the resources are all so minimal, it is appalling.
Some things I would like to try out in India, when I go back there for good, which are a bit adventurous would include:
·        Sitting in an old sari and begging outside a temple. I want to know what type of experience it is going to be!( I will be a silent beggar. I will have an aluminum bowl in front of me and sit quietly without actually begging.)
·        Apply for something (which I do not really want) in a government office and refuse to pay the bribe and get rejected. And go there every day and ask again and again until I get what I want without bribing. (I may end up going there daily till my dying day and not get it!) I know of a guy who would apply for government posts, get selected and asked for bribes and he would use the opportunity to verbally abuse the people asking for bribe in the most sarcastic humiliating way! He was not really seeking a job but wanted to create an opportunity to vent his rage against these slippery thieves in government service.
·        Join all the strikes (especially for things I feel strongly about) and sit outside Vidhan Soudha and yell and scream or whatever.
The other things I want to try out are too illicit and I don’t want someone I know reading and so I am not putting those stuff here!

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