January 19, 2011 – Sun, Sweet Lassi and Indian Paradox -Impressions of a Changing India
Just a quick post. Woke to a lovely sunny morning and decided it was a good day to go into the market and do some errands…some things I needed to purchase and ship hope. I usually wait until my last couple of weeks and am then hassled, and the weather is hot. So decided to do it while it is still cool and I am in no hurry. And as usual, what should be a quick trip to the shop became a full day’s work. And I still have to return again to finish the transaction and get the parcel off in the mail. But that’s fine. No hassle…typically Indian and I don’t mind it at all. I know that it is possible to do just one thing a day here, and so technically life becomes very simple.
When I returned from the market, pleased that I had done the basic work of getting the stuff purchased and ready for the post office, I sat for awhile to talk to some friends in the next guesthouse and then returned to my room and didn’t feel like cooking. I ordered room service and where, until today, there would be no question about my ordering chai to drink to warm me up, today, for the first time since I’ve been here (a whole month already), I actually ordered my first LASSI. Delicious as always and it hit the spot, proving beyond a doubt that very slowly the weather is warming up. Nothing drastic, but enough to be able to enjoy a cold lassi on the rooftop in the sun!
While purchasing the items to ship home, among them, two pressure cookers, I had to sit and wait for some time in the “pot shop” and the owner and I began chatting over chai. I mentioned how I’ve noticed prices going up in India drastically from year to year. Asked how people managed and he said that salaries are also rising. When I asked however, about the poor, who don’t get salary hikes, he simply bobbled his head and said “what to do…too many poor people”. And then went on to tell me how expensive his vacations have become. He told me that it was just as cheap to go to Macao and Hong Kong as it was to vacation in India. Didn’t understand how this could be possible, until he told me about his vacations in Chennai, Hyderabad and Goa. The one in Goa for example, cost him, for him and his wife, for a 3 day vacation, 60,000 rupees!! Yes, that’s right. That is about $1500!!! I don’t even remember the other prices her quoted to me, but they were equally astounding, at least for me. He said he only stays at 5-7 star hotels (never heard of a 7 star hotel personally). I said that I only stay at “0” star hotels and he laughed. I commented that he must be selling an awful lot of pots to be able to do this and he bobbled his head, laughed and said…”yes, many pots for sure!!”
He then began to tell me about the wonderful malls springing up all over the country and when I mentioned that they seemed very expensive, he agreed but said that is because they sell only the best quality and of course it is OK to spend a lot of money for good quality. He says his wife loves to go shopping at the malls and travels for hours to get to one and spend money. Apparently, India is not far behind the rest of the world as far as consumerism is concerned. I just find it so disconcerting when I look around and see all the poverty everywhere. It is difficult for me to accept, but the average Indian doesn’t seem to think there is anything out of place, or paradoxical about it. That’s just the way life is. Some people are poor, and will always be poor, while others have been blessed with upward mobility and will climb as far and as fast as they can!
This would help explain all the new building going on even here in Tapovan Village…
mostly flats, not guesthouses or hotels. What you see in this picture, and others I posted a couple of days ago, was just a year ago open fields…now there is barely room to walk between the buildings! Seems many retired couples are purchasing small one-bedroom flats in the “suburbs” and even some young couples are purchasing them as “first flats” before they move on to something better.
That’s it for today….