The truth about India, in a nutshell…

Someone send me the following nuggets about India…  And how true they are!  After almost six months (I can’t believe I have already been here that long) in their midst, I can definitely vouch for their accuracy (or at least most of them). IMG_0835There is no truer statement than this…  Every day relies on countless miracles and godly interventions because the Indian people certainly won’t make things happen without a helping hand…  It is a marvel anything happens at all.

IMG_0842 Do I need to expand on the merits of buying into ‘Indian Stretchable Time’…  The advantage is that you are actually never late.

IMG_0837 When I arrived in India, I thought the caste system had long been abolished.  How wrong could I be??  These days, for statistics purposes only mind you (???), at the school parents and children have to complete a form which asks them which caste they belong to…  And any men with certain surnames such as Nair have an air of superiority about them just because they were born in an upper caste… So much for social mobility…

And high school marks??  I suppose we all like to boast about these, but in India, the question has to be asked whether they were really deserved or bought???   At the moment, India is still reeling from the scandal of entrance exams for Medical Schools being rigged…  It seems money is more potent than brains to enter the medical profession.

IMG_0840 I like food and enjoy eating… but I struggle with the amount I am offered to eat and the frequency of the offers each time I visit Indian households. No sooner have you accepted and swallowed the first morsel of food than another helping is added… And this carries on and on and on…until you are ready to explode.  So in desperation, I asked ‘Indian Man In The Know’ how to avoid being overfed…  ‘Say you are fasting,’ he answered, ‘Indian people have great respect for that…’  Hmmmm… as people at school remark on my constant nibbling (fruit only, I may add), I am not sure they will fall for the ‘fasting fib’…  But the permanent tea time certainly goes some way in explaining the fattened waistlines of (some) Indian people.

IMG_0833 In a country where a cousin of a cousin is your cousin; and your neighbour is your children’s uncle; your mother’s friend is your aunty; and the children’s pledge at school makes all Indians brothers and sisters… no wonder that when someone dies, all and and sundry feel entitled to a bit of the deceased’s estate.

And if anyone had the audacity to want to make a change, there are plenty of relatives to stop them…

IMG_0838 This one does not need any further elaboration… It does not matter which side of the road you are meant to be on, if there is any space on any side, it is yours for the taking, even if it means flattening what is already there…

IMG_0839 A few days ago, Goutam Ghosh wrote the following in The New Indian Express about Indian attitudes under the title ‘We Indians are Ingenious, and Ingenuous too’: ‘We read of death and mayhem in the daily newspapers but that never dents our fortified perimeter round our microcosm.  We read of rapes, frightening murders that at times put ISIS butchery to shame, thefts, robberies and cheats; but the shelf life of the information in our heads is less than a few hours at most, saving us from nightmares.  We fail to respond to the external stimuli probably because it doesn’t fit into our larger aim in life: undisturbed comfort.’ IMG_0834 Corruption and bribery are the order of the day… IMG_0836

There is a saying in India that ‘bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbour’s plants’. Daughters are a drain on a family’s wealth, needing a sizeable financial dowry in order to marry. Daughters are regarded as temporary members of the family as after marriage they will leave their family of origin and join a new household.  Daughters are not wanted and male offspring is much preferred.

Sex-selective abortion and female infanticide have skewed the girl-boy ratio in India. Although both are clearly illegal, they are still widely practised in many parts of the country.  Where pre-natal sex determination is not an option and girl babies are born, they are still in danger through either direct infanticide or through neglect.

Just in one week, I read the following stories in Indian magazines and newspapers:

1. A woman handed her 10th daughter to an orphanage just after she was born.  She did not hold the child for she could not muster any affection nor accept the burden of guilt at her choice.  The woman felt too ashamed to go home presenting yet another daughter, and could not face feeding another mouth.  Whereas a son would have meant a future to her, another daughter put more strain on an already overstretched family.  Where would the family get the money to pay the dowry when the time came for another daughter to be married?

2. Two suicides. No witnesses. No explanations. Two women in their early twenties.  One drowned in a well and was found by her husband hours later; the other chose self-immolation and her charred remains were discovered by her husband’s family later that day.   Although the newspaper did not suggest any foul play, a lot of questions remain unanswered.  What would have made those women’s lives so unbearable that they saw death as their only escape?  Or was S in the staff room spot-on when she linked the deaths to unpaid dowries?

3. Three young girls, aged 16 and 17, leapt of a moving train.  Two died instantly, the third succumbed to her injuries a few days later.  The motives for the suicide pact remain shrouded in mystery.  Could it be study pressure, or did the girls want to escape their inevitable future of a life of servitude and subordination in a male dominated society?

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