[Under the title Through Another's Eyes I am starting a new feature that will hopefully become something of a fixture, and offer a window of a different sort to the Indian condition.
We Indians are a proud and mindful people. We know that our roots are deep and that makes our collective consciousness deeper. It is far too easy for us to become so fully absorbed in our own sense of self, that at times we have difficulty seeing in ourselves habits that others see so readily. That's where this feature comes in handy. Hopefully.
In these posts you will sample observations made by 'another's eyes'. The way others experience India may be illuminating, or at least interesting. At a minimum, I hope to have fun looking up stuff like this.]
The web log Our Delhi Struggle is a good start. I found it a year ago by chance while looking up the so-called google sari. The blog has been around long enough now, and has become quite popular. And it’s topical enough that its authors have a deal to write a book about the bloggers’ experience.
Here are some favorite blockquotes to get you started right away.
They start off real simple:
We are Dave and Jenny. We live in India, which is not like where we used to live. [...] we’re blogging to showcase the fun and insanity of living in India [...] (And let it be said that we now deeply regret calling this blog “Our Delhi Struggle” — the connotations are far too negative. A better title would be “The Delhi We See” or something like that. I wish we could change it.)
IU doesn’t think the title too negative, just quite a propos; a second act or a summary chapter could be titled differently, perhaps. I see no problem in a story of a struggle to cope and to understand. But then, IU is not into marketing, so what do I know! Back to the quotes:
Jenny and I moved to India vowing to go against our inclination to avoid weird situations. When a snake charmer in Jaipur tells me to pet his cobra, I pet his cobra. And when a taxi boss invites me in for whiskey when I come over to argue about a fare, I drink his whiskey.
I’ve also stopped tyring to get lost in a crowd (which is a laughable idea, by the way, because my every movement is closely monitored by just about everyone). Every store has an excessive number of employees and to each one, it’s their job to serve you. Browsing confuses them. I’ve learned to allow them to help me. For instance, I went to a pharmacy and asked the saleswoman for shampoo. She then showed me several brands. I inspected them, asked the price of those I was interested in, and made my selection. I then ask for bandaids. Again, she showed me a selection. This time I didn’t like any, and rejected them all. It’s actually quite fun once you get the hang of it.
Some of the posts at this blog are quite personal, as we have seen. Others take on the objective quality of the roving eye. Still others are near literary, even poetic. Indeed, anything but er, pedestrian. Read:
In the cumulative hours I’ve sat at this eternal intersection, I’ve memorized the scene. I know the ripped circus posters; I know the cops with their Rajasthani mustaches curled up their cheeks; and I know the people who call the weedy median home: the old men, the tired women, the energetic children, the girl with the full-length skirt smeared with dirt but not enough dirt to hide the vibrant mustard yellow of the material.
We all share the same daily ritual: I sit in my car, the cops wave at us to wait or wave at us to go, the engines idle, the rickshaws weave through the cars; and the migrants sit and stare or walk through traffic and beg.
Last Wednesday, some new people joined the ritual: a woman, her naked son, and her battered suitcase.
She had the look of a person in transit….
Indian corporate and governmental entities don’t like to take responsibility for anything. Their efforts to apologize for the horrific state of the infrastructure take the passive voice to enterprising new heights with three simple words: “Inconvenience is regretted.”
“Rest assured,” they’re essentially saying, “that someone is sorry this four-lane highway is squeezed into one lane so we can spend six months installing these sewer pipes. We’re NOT saying that WE feel bad about anything; but we want you to know that someone, somewhere, is filled with intense remorse. Not necessarily us. But someone.”
At the airport, which is under a perpetual state of construction, someone somewhere is really ringing their hands over the plight of the traveler. “Inconvenience,” say the signs, “is deeply regretted.”
That’s some pretty good eye and witty writing, wouldn’t you say?
Here are links to some other interesting posts at this blog:
This one is my personal favorite:
Our Delhi Struggle is a terrific little blog. The writing is informal without being lazy. Its tone rather matter of fact, and the photos are vivid and telling. The blog strives to be personal without emotionality, to be objective without condescension. It is too serious to be called cute, too sincere to be disregarded as just another.
Our Delhi Struggle adds up to a tender, bitter-sweet, love letter from two loving people to themselves. But it is also a gift to us all, and an all around terrific treat. Highly recommended.
Good Luck to the good writers of ODS!