Today it seems is the day to answer the Indian myth post from mid November of 2010. Maybe its the fresh spring air that drove me to do it.
So here they are, our original list answered.
1. There is poop everywhere. There is poop in the air, in the water, in your clothes, in the street, in the food, in your eyes, in your nose….everywhere.
Answer 1. Everywhere is a big place. There is not poop everywhere. BUT – anywhere you are – you can find some poop, of types covering most of the mammals in India.
2. The reason everyone (maybe not everyone) gets sick in India is not just the water, but that every single one of your senses is assaulted. It’s loud, it’s noisy, it smells, touch, color, that everything is so overwhelmed your body just shuts down.
Answer 2. Generally true. I (John) got a sinus infection on day 3 that lasted till January. The pollution is most intense in traffic, both air and sound being more than you can preconceive.
3. There is no sense of personal space. There will always be someone looking at you, touching you, trying to scam you, trying to talk to you, smiling at you, pickpocketing you, laughing at you, laughing with you, standing on the train on the bus on the sidewalk. Personal space means nothing.
Answer 3. Generally true. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. In market areas your white skin makes you a walking billboard that says SELL TO ME! When you are in tourist areas, Indian tourists will often ask to have their picture taken with you. The scams are never ending. Will will do a whole post about that at a later date. There is indeed laughter to be found everywhere. Indians seem to like physical comedy more than we do. Lines mean NOTHING. Whoever pushes to the front is next. Its like a cattle ranch. While you may feel the Indians are always watching you – they are also always watching out FOR you. We were adopted by an entire busload of strangers who helped us see the Taj Mahal the way Indian tourists do, not in the air conditioned comfort of a rented car. It will always be my #1 Indian experience.
4. Mumbai is the second most populated city in the world (Shanghai is first). There are roughly 13 million people in Mumbai proper, not even Mumbai-land. Chicago has 3 million, New York has 8 million (including boroughs), that’s roughly 700 people per square mile. There is a slum in Dharavi that has ONE MILLION PEOPLE PER SQUARE MILE. Just saying.
Answer 4. Those are just facts actually so its easy to say TRUE. New York sidewalks now feel as open and wide as a country road.
5. You will occasionally step over a dead body.
Answer 5. False. While we did see dead bodies in the streets, they were being carried and were wrapped. So no stepping was required.
6. You cannot leave your hotel unescorted. (This is something I heard from someone who had been there, it scared me, but have since found that this cannot be true for petes sakes. It’s not Afghanistan, oh but right…it is right NEAR Afghanistan.
Answer 7. False. So very false. We wandered the back alleys of Old Delhi at night without a map or flashlight. Yes there was a stretch of total darkness that lasted about a quarter mile while motorcycles cut through an alley at high speed. But even that didn’t feel like certain south side areas of my own city in terms of actual danger.
7. Generally, the scam is held in high regard in India. Indians will be more impressed with a great scam than someone working hard their whole lives. Be aware.
Answer 7. Huge TRUE. My favorite scam is the scammer who scares off other scammers to be your friend and then scam you.
8. The beggars will alternately break your heart and piss you off.
Answer 8. 100% true. You see entire families “working” a corner. Don’t fall for it. It is a business just like anything else. They will use their kids as grease against you. The children are apprentices not pawns. Sun glasses are you friend.
9. People will often fill plastic water bottles with deadly tap water and then glue the cap on so it seems like it’s sealed tight.
Answer 9. TRUE. Our free bottled water that came with our room at COWIE’S in MUMBAI was in fact refilled tap water. I noticed that the bottom ring didn’t turn when I took the top off the first. A quick look at the second bottle confirmed it. You need to be on guard 100% of the time.
10. The more revealing your clothes (tank tops, shorts) the more you will get hassled. (this is for the ladies. John doesn’t wear tank tops anymore…heh).
Answer 10. True. Even more so in the Muslim areas. Margaret got hit in the arm by men in a crowd several times. Yup. There are stretches of Old Delhi where you may walk a mile and not see a single woman on the street.
11. You might get a sinus infection from all of the pollution in New Delhi and Mumbai.
Answer 11. Very true. The smoke from burning trash and plastic plus all the exhaust from the poorly tuned 2-stroke motors is thick in the air. Bring saline rise and think about having a mask for the ride to a from the airports. Really.
12. That besides all of these fearful things, India is the most beautiful place, with the most beautiful people.
Answer 12. True. I miss it every day. We met people we will never forget. We shot video that will help backup all the statements I made above. We pushed our traveler skill sets farther than we thought we could. It was a mind expanding soul sucking period of destructive growth. We miss you Gabar, Mr. Singh, Our Indian Sisters, Daneyal, Indian Jim Thorpe and Vickram.