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poetic justice in india
By Dennis Batchelder 6 April 1998

if you're in india, it's good to be beef. you can go anywhere you'd like, stop traffic, and even walk in front of buses safely. i've included a picture of a cow on the highway in front of a bus. there's probably 10 cows each mile on the highways. more in the villages.

so about the poetic justice. as i wrote earlier, we went to agra and saw the taj mahal. everyone we saw was dirty. people taking baths in mud puddles, using the same water to drink later. people in clothes so dirty you couldn't tell the original colors.

but that was only the men. they looked so unkempt. but the women were dressed very nice. i'd see a bicycle go by, pedaled by a guy who looked homeless, with his wife dressed in a radiant, brilliant sari. with her hair all braided neatly, and wearing gold earings and necklaces. there were so many of these ladies around - with their daughters all decked out, etc.

i tell you, these colors on their looked beautiful. i'm an orange freak, and there was SO MUCH bright flourescent orange outfits arounds. then the bright
pinks, greens, deep blues, reds, and yellows. so incongruous with the surroundings.

we were returning from the taj mahal, after such a wonderful visit. it was dark, and the taxi's headlights were lighting up these gorgeous saris. latif and i were talking about how sad it was in India - so much could be done to agra, to make it a tourist haven with better availability. instead, it's buried under so much filth and corruption, it seemed there was no hope.

i pointed out the window, and began my speech. i told latif to look at the beautiful saris all around. i told him that even with all the filth, corruption, and decline, those saris told me that there was still hope, hope that india would be able to rise up and pull itself out of the ditches and into the mainstream of  modern civilization. hope that the common good of all humanity would shine. hope that....

latif cut me off. he told me that i was "mushy" after seeing the taj mahal, and besides, i was missing pam, and any lady dressed nicely would look nice. he said that the last thing on these people's minds when they dressed up so nicely was to provide "hope" to a silly american on a 2 day visit to india.

you can imagine how outraged i was. or, puzzled would be a better word for it. i told latif that it was just sour grapes, and because he was a pakistani, he was blind to the advancements of these people. i said that these outfits indeed stood for the resilience of the indian peoples, and that it was a foregone conclusion of the imminent turnaround of their country. after such a day, i was ready to become a poet, and compose elegant verses about natural beauties.

"nuts," he said. and refused to talk about it. "fine," I said, as we dozed off on the ride home.

so much for the resilience and hope. and to top it off, we stopped at a restaurant a couple of hours later, and the waiter explained to us that it was a very special holy day for the hindus. the celebration of the birth of Rama. the celebration was for ladies, and the way they celebrated was to put on their
finest outfits, go to the temple, and have a party afterwards. you guessed it - the ladies we saw were on the way to the temple.

now i am a realist about india. no more poetry. i woke up today, saw how everyone was dressed, and alas, realized that yesterday was an aberration. today, everyone's in dirty clothes. everyone's washing in puddles. my illusion was shattered. i'm leaving india with a more realistic view. well, i still have the taj mahal....


poetic justice in india - india