India : You love it or you hate it. People used to say.
Just before going to India, I prepared myself psychologically at his poverty. I was telling myself : “Vio, you need to be strong, you will see poverty, you will be shocked by what you will see.” Because I am sensitive, emotive, even really sensitive. I was trying to prepare myself to these situations, in order not to cry.
I will be shocked, but I was knowing that will be hard, and I was a bit prepared, I had seen before in Nepal in the streets of Katmandu, children sniffing glue, young orphaned children, sometimes really young who were begging and living, surviving on a street. They were kicking out of the street by locals. That was the first shocked image I saw in my travel.
But what I was not expected that was everything was money, all the time Indian were talking about money. That was the main interest of people I met, and I realized that will be complicated to meet real people, to do real meetings, these you don’t expect, change your road, touch you, these with which you learn a lot.
Cause my travel is based on meetings, of course I love to see beautiful landscapes, that’s nice, but to exchange, learn, share, give, receive are the reason of my travel. I see the travel like a big source of learning like the most beautiful school of life. At the end, I will learned a lot, but not exchange with indians.
I was also surprised by the caste system, this old school system…
I remember this meeting with this child in Agra, this little indian boy, he was 12 years old. He came to us, he came to talk to us in english, to practice his english, he was not looking for money (that’s really rare), he just wanted to talk english. I will ask him, that was sound for me a common question : “What is your dream? ”
His answer was terrifying and an disconcerting reality, truth. He will just answer : “I don’t have dream, I can’t have dream, I am poor and will stay poor all my life!”
He disappeared, what a fatalism! What a maturity!
Of course at this moment, I realized all the idiocy of my question! The luck I have to be born in France, to have dreams, to have the possibility to realize them.
He put me in my place. A child who get no dream! Who can’t have it!
I was hopping that all the children of the world, even poor had some dreams. I was really confused, shocked by the fatality he answered to me.
That was normal I am poor, that’s my condition, I will stay poor all my life.
With the castes there is no possibility of evolution. The poor castes have no spirit of revolt, or rebellion to that system change, that’s for me, for french, seem unthinkable. We make strike a lot!
Generation after generation they are poor and will stay poor.
This system also don’t permit to marry to who you want. Weddings are between castes of the same social level. So you can love, just the people from your caste.
That was common to see in the newspaper in the miscellaneous news items : murders between families cause parents don’t want their son or daughter married with their love from an other caste!
How you can do that!
In India, for the wedding, the woman need to pay the dowry to his future husband. This dowry is expensive, women cost a lot and of course that’s better to not have girls so that’s why some girls are killed when they born…
To marry her daughter is complicated so to give a birth to a girl is a burden!
Indian women of poor castes aren’t considered in the society, they need to have the agreement of their husband to do things, to talk for example.
They are really far from the gender equality!
Women work a lot and really hard.
When people told me I am lucky to travel, I answer, my real luck is to be born in the good place, is to be born in France. To born in India in a poor caste, nobody dream of that.
I have a big respect for these women, they are so beautiful, they wear so well their multicolored clothes.
As a foreigner woman , I have a special status, cause I am a woman, so we don’t listen to me, or really a little, but the main thing is I am the object of the desire.
At the beginning, I was thinking that was because of my skin color, for the money, they don’t see a lot of tourists.
But I learned that the only or the first white women that indian men was seeing in their life were in the pornographic films.
These films were used for sexual education, indian men were thinking that we were docile like these actresses, and were reacting like them. So I disapointed indian men! Love is complicated!
I laugh now, but I managed few complicated situations with indian.
I was deeply annoyed, disgusted, touched when I got sick, like a lot of foreigner I became sick, but it was my fault, I ate meat, to change a bit, and I was served!
I just took three pieces, I was not liking the taste, but that will enough to give me a big diarrhea.
My muscles were painful, I got headache, fever, I get the feeling my head will explode, I was really cold, really hot, so tired. I never been so sick like this in my life.
Unfortunately, we must take the train, to be sick in the public transports, that’s not the must!
When they saw my face, an indian family let me lay down on their bench, they were really adorable, I took a lot of medicine, but I was going regularly to the toilets, completly exhausted, and on the way I had a certain number of hands touching my breasts and my buttocks.
They were taking advantage of my health status to touch me, that was making me crazy, but I was so weak, that I didn’t have the strength to get angry or screaming to telling them how they were so disgusting to do that, and in a way the idea to rose all the train was not good.
I was taking upon myself, but that was really making me mad.
I will understand why in India there is train carriage just for women.
The french medicine was not working, no effect, so I will go to the first local pharmacy, I don’t know what they will give to me, but after two hours I was feeling better. But what kind of drugs they give to me?
I was quite lucky, happy to just have hands touching my body, cause I heard stories of acid burns or rape… That’s more common than we think.
I was also chocked by what human can do for money, I told you about what can happen to certain woman, but there is also the fact that they create monsters, they mutilate men or women, to put on the street begging, they play with your sensitivity in order you give to them money.
The famous movie : “Slumdog Millionaire” is not a fiction.
Do you know the children flower pot? When they are really young, they are put in flower pot, their muscles and legs can’t developped, are atrophied, and they finished on the street begging.
So of course you want give, you are chocked, but give to them is encouraging this atrocity to continue… But doing nothing is also let them die..
In two months and a half, in India, I didn’t have much human connection with indian, we were not in the same mood, I was thinking to share, to communicate but it was complicated. I was in a permanent conflict, in a permanent aggressive relation to be respected and to be listened. And I was considered constantly as a banknote, that was make me tired and crazy.
Me who love communicate, I was frustrated. India is a really particular country. I don’t tell you to not go there.
Each experience is different, each traveler is different.
But if you go as a woman, I will advise you to not go alone, and particularly if you are blond and blue eyes, prepare you to have a lot of success. If you are a man, you will not have problem, you will be pampered.
India is the country that I can write pages and pages, if I met traveler they have been there, we will talk and discuss a lot of this country. That’s a real experience and I travel also for that.
This country makes me grow, open my eyes on this world, on this part of the world. Now, I got my own opinion on this country, so far from the hippie image I had in my head. It wakes up my feminist side. I learned a lot with India.
Varanasi stay a unique moment, an exceptional atmosphere, the Ganges is mystical, special, incredible.
The culture, the indian beliefs are interessant, colors are amazing, and if you love photography you will appreciate a lot. The lifestyle, temples, the dirt, this organized mess, the noise, the smell, the Thali contribute to the charm of India.
Hampi with his temples and rocks, the Taj Mahal, a piece of art made by a man madly in love of his wife, are stunning.
The Andaman islands also are a real paradise.
I don’t know if you will read this article, but that was the most complicated to write, for me. Cause I would love to tell you, I find this country really nice, beautiful, I enjoy India a lot, but that’s not, I can’t say that. I ate it? No. I can’t say that, cause this country open my eyes on the tourism, on the nature of human who is to make profit no matter what are the consequences, on the role of the education, on the cultural problems…That’s the country I learned the most. That was just a different travel.
Memories of India, memories of a special country.