Sunday, March 13, 2011

Impressions of the latest version of India

Its been a while since I wrote anything here. Mostly because I had gone to India for about a month. A month of non-stop travel, family, food, fun and clothes! Yes, I always get the latest newest Indian wear in every India trip :)

And now back to my D & B (dull and boring) life here. Again and again, it comes to me how India has changed, some for the better and some for worse. I left India right at the time it was teetering on the very brink of globalization- now, of course, it is totally over the edge. I came to the US in 2005- and the last five years have meant massive change in India. Not everywhere, though. Some things stay the same, some regress and some progress. For example, one can now see (and travel on) better roads. They are improving the roads, which were abysmal earlier. Its slow but its happening. New highways are being constructed all over North India, which is where I mostly traveled.

I was also very impressed with the new airports, I saw both the Hyderabad and New Delhi ones. They were world-class with superb facilities, efficient staff, sparkling clean, helpful service oriented people everywhere (be it the airline or the airport staff). The airline staff deserves a special mention- they were so friendly and helpful and sweet! Another thing that I noticed was that in airports across the world- at least in India and Europe- at the airport security check in, the staff helps you. They take your hand baggage, put it in trays etc. This happened to me both at Frankfurt and everywhere in India. So why doesn't this ever happen in the US? Why is there never anybody to help before security? I mean, I'm sure its not needed- though it might be very helpful to first time travelers who don't know what to remove- but it provides that extra touch of service that makes all the difference.

So what remains the same? Yes, same old, same old. The country will never accept its daughters. Yes, female foeticide is getting worse. So much so, that it is not considered remarkable or wrong, but spoken of rather matter of factly. Much like recounting an amusing anecdote. Actually, that is exactly what did happen to me. While meeting some extended family, this happened in two separate instances. Both mentioned acquaintances of theirs who had sons after two daughters (and 3-4 foeticides in between). Let me make it clear, these conversations were about the fact that how great it was that they finally had sons. And so the foeticide was only mentioned in passing, as an irrelevant factor. This practice has become so common that it not only ceases to repulse, it even ceases to be considered. It is the way of things, after all, one should do everything possible to get a son (in these instances, I only speak of North India, where this son craze is reaching dangerous proportions).

The next thing that irritated me no end was that nobody ever switched off their cellphones for aircraft take-off and landing. Nobody! Ever! I just don't get it. I took two domestic flights in India, and it was the same every time. I kept wondering why this was so, in fact spent the two hour flight wondering about this phenomenon. What made Indians ignore the rules? And I came to the conclusion that most Indians have it hardwired into their system that they are above the rules. Hence everybody talks on their phone, nobody waits for the seat belt sign to get switched off. This could also be the reason behind India's abysmal traffic situation. Or corruption. Wow, this is a brainwave and maybe I should write a paper on this: Why Indians don't follow the rules?

So, I am leaving you with this funny advertisement from Reliance. Which captures Indian follies and foibles and still makes you laugh :)


Psych Babbler™ said...

US airport officials not helping out --- probably due to being so paranoid that every hand luggage has a bomb in it! :P Sorry...they help out here in Aus too by handing you a tray and helping where needed.

I didn't realise the levels of female foeticide!! :O It's shocking...I thought it was illegal for doctors to inform the parents of the gender of the child though...isn't it? My cousin was pregnant a couple of yrs ago and when I asked her the gender 4 months into the pregnancy, she informed me that it was illegal to find out and so they didn't know.

Oh...and I experienced a similar thing re mobile phones on planes when I last went to India in 2009. I went Sydney-Singapore-Bombay and the Syd-Sing flight had several people from different countries (Aus, Germany, Holland, etc) and there were no issues. And then on the Sing-Syd flight, a guy had to be told about 5 times by the flight attendant to turn off his phone and another had to be told by the pilot or someone to get back in their seat as they unfastened their seatbelt while taking off!!!


I notice like you too that in some ways India has progressed (not roads in Bombay though) but the mentality has regressed in many ways...

Rachna said...

@PB- it is illegal, but who follows the law? Yo've been out of India too long ;)
I know of enough doctors who tell, even though they may outwardly pretend to follow the law.