India through a Kid's Eyes

If you have ever had a chance to visit India, you will never be able to forget it. That is exactly what happened to me. Although my trip took place over twenty years ago, my memory can still hold the minutest details of it. As I was only a child of ten, I didn't either study the Indian yoga philosophy or get acquainted with the country's cultural heritage. So, I am going to describe the facts of everyday life that struck my childhood fancy.

My overall impression of India can be boiled down to the word "contrast": here it is not unusual at all to see a luxurious cottage in close proximity to a poverty-stricken hut with wet linen hanging on the roof or people wearing very rich clothes and gold jewellery next to hungry barefooted homeless folk suffering from cholera or leprosy.

The terrible diseases make it necessary for everyone to wash fruits and vegetables with special red soap which destroys all the bacteria. However, it didn't prevent us from eating fruits every day due to which I learned a lot of new names and tastes: papaya, lychee, mango... As to other food, I have already mentioned Indian cuisine in one of my blog posts.

Anyway, Indian heat doesn't contribute to hearty appetites. Therefore, most people in India are lean. Women can afford to wrap themselves up in five metres of cloth called "sari" without looking fat. Their clothes are usually colourful and on holidays they wear plenty of jewellery: nose rings, chains on their heads and ankles and lots of bracelets that jingle as they move. It is also orthodox to wear a red dot called "bindi" to decorate one's forehead and paint one's palms and hair parting red.

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When there is no holiday, women work a lot. An idling man is a more habitual sight in India than a woman who is sitting about doing nothing. Women from the lower classes not only raise children, do their household chores and shop, but also perform hard work such as carrying loads on their heads (even pregnancy doesn't stop them from doing that as you can see in the second picture):

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Whereas most men are occupied in more sedentary activities like producing jewellery or selling produce at the market:

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Those men who do go to work, sometimes do it in a most unusual way - on a bus roof:

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But the most widespread means of transport is a bicycle. I remember looking out of a taxi back window and seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of bicyclists. An extraordinary sight, I would tell you, like a bicycle race. But in fact only everyday life.

Middle class people can afford to travel by rickshaw:

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Cars are owned only by the wealthier people but they seem to be at a disadvantage: if there is a cow lying in the middle of a road (which is not rare at all), no driver dares blow his horn for cows are sacred animals in India.

As to other Indian animals, they have to work really hard to earn their food. Cobras swell their hoods to the tune of their master's pipe:

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Cocks participate in battles:

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Elephants carry people:

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Only crocodiles seem to lead luxurious lives passing their days in spacious open air zoos without any cages and allowing the public to contemplate their sharp teeth:

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Having spent seven months in this exotic country, I saw only the top of an iceberg. In order to study India in depth, it is necessary to live there for years and years. If I ever have another opportunity to visit the country, I will grasp at it for I'm curious to see how  the country has changed over the time.

chicaandaluza аватар

Have never been to India and would love to do so one day. I have often heard the same comments you make about the contrasts. What an amazing opportunity you had at such a young age and how wonderful that you are able to look back now and reflect upon it with the experience of an adult.

admin Olga-ekb аватар

Hope you will visit India one day, Tanya! Yes, it was a great opportunity, thanks to which I was able to see how life differs in different parts of the world.

Ariana@Pearl's twirl аватар

Thank you Olga, such an interesting post. India is on my lost to visit, but to be honest with you I'm a bit skeptical about the diseases and dirt everywhere, but still it would not stop me to travel and explore this magical place.

admin Olga-ekb аватар

You know, Ariana, we had to get vaccinated before entering India. So it wasn’t so terrifying. The country is definitely worth a visit. Happy

Cameron Brooks аватар

What an incredible experience at such an impressionable age! Are these family photos? What was the purpose of your visit?

admin Olga-ekb аватар

Right, Cameron, these are family photos – I scanned them for the post.

My father worked as an interpreter and he was sent to India on business. As it was a long-term trip, he was to be accompanied by the family. Unfortunately, only primary education was available for us Russians there and I had to return home after seven months while my father, mother and small sister spent two and a half years in India!

Ramkumar аватар

I'm an Indian and in reply to Ariana's scepticism and doubts about the country being dirty and unclean as it is portrayed , the accounts are not exaggerated . It's a misconception that the people here tend to be lean owing to abstemious habits which, in turn ,is assumed to be by the dint of the tropical climate . The lean build of a slice of Indians is more due to a lack of food rich in calories . Rice is the staple of almost every Indian meal and most families (70 % of the populace is poverty ridden)find it a tough enough job to have enough of it to eat to stave off hunger till the next meal. It is very true the country is a veritable sea of contrasts , contrasts in almost all aspects of life. In spite of these societal downfalls , it is a country indeed worth a visit. I cannot compare it to other countries and give a run down of their respective merits and demerits for I've never been abroad . Cheers !

admin Olga-ekb аватар

Thank you for your comment, Ramkumar! Maybe rice alone isn’t very rich in calories but I have to admit that Indians can cook it so professionally as no one else can. In India I even tried it mixed with chicken meat and it was a really square meal. Happy

shalini kaushik аватар

Olga, I would tell you to visit india again and maybe see for yourself what a country it is , rich with its heritage and culture.. It has a History of its on.

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