This is the life.
I can understand why Leonard Cohen spent so much time in the Chelsea Hotel! We’re living the yogi, family version though of course here at The Hotel Ketan! No domestics to do, just yoga, reading, writing and facebooking!
India is amazing – truly beautiful and yet it’s concerning what’s happening to the environment. Consumerism brings with it all the usual trappings of plastic and pollution. And we tourists are some of the worst offenders with our plastic water bottles and take away rubbish. Seems silly to worry about it though, my worrying isn’t going to have much impact in the grand scheme of things.
I like the small moments – watching women sift sand while their husbands unload a truckload of bricks by hand – they work with the ease of effort and rhythm necessitated by repetitive manual labour and manage to smile and laugh while doing it. Another moment – the guard at the airport who notices we’re getting a bit stressed rushing to make the plane and quietly steps in to help us with all our bags and sets us on our way. And realising at our home stay that we’re missing a bag at the exact same time as the driver returns with it.
And then there is the truly impressive majestry and magic of buildings like the Taj Mahal – monument to love – and the Agra Fort. India is just so BIG – in it’s population (1.25 billion), it’s history, it’s inequality, it’s philosophy, it’s achievements, it’s problems, it’s breadth of human experience from the kindest to the most cruel.
Every morning The Times of India slides under the door and I love reading it to try to get some understanding of India. So far I’ve learnt: that dengue fever is on the rise in Pune after the unusual rains (I’ve started killing mosquitoes!); gold snatchers are on the loose who trick elderly women and then snatch their heavy gold chains from their necks (one of these was caught, today’s paper reports, by a policeman who chased him on a motorcyle and punched the pillion passenger so the rider lost his balance – both took to their heels but one was ’nabbed’); there have been 1500 rat-bite cases this year; and Zakir Hussain (the famous Muslim tabla player in town for a concert) says the atmosphere in the country has changed. In the wake of terrorist strikes in Mumbai and Paris there is a debate going on about intolerance. Zakir says: “The current atmosphere is not the same, with a layer of thought process that says ‘he is not my friend’, ‘he is not my brother anymore’. We must understand that as human beings we are one”.
The Climate talks in Paris are getting a lot of coverage, mostly from the angle that the West can’t expect countries like India to curtail their growth to solve a problem seen as created by the West. Guest editor writer Amitav Ghosh laments the absence of nature in Indian writing of the past 100 years and says the issue of climate change is not sexy in India. But as he says: “When the impact is really felt, people like us – who frankly have a carbon footprint equivalent to anyone in the West – will be hit the worst”. Contrasts are also made between Beijing and Delhi – when pollution hits a certain level in Beijing schoolchildren are sent home and people are told to stay indoors, but no such measures are taken in Delhi when the pollution hits the same level. Delhi has a population of 18 million and is considered the most polluted city on earth. Pune seems unpolluted in comparison!
That’s all for today! Time to get Luke off his ipad and out into the world!