An Overwhelming Note 1

The other day, I received an email from raki. It was a forwarded one. It was actually written by Bill [one of his friend who came down form Australia for Santosh’s marriage.] I was so overwhelmed to read the email written to his Australian friends. Some common things we do has amazed him so much, that besieged me.

Here are the excerpts directly from his mail.

Bill says…. “The wedding was nothing short of amazing, we were stunned by the colours of the women’s saris, the masses of flowers interwoven into great walls and carpets of yellow and orange and red and the powerful sense of ceremony that prevailed for two days.

The emotion and the genuine faith in their god is quite overwhelming. Our western weddings seem quite superficial by comparison, a brief visit to a church to say a few lines learned the week before, followed by a night of alcohol-fuelled embarrassing ourselves punctuated by enforced dancing and speeches filled with crude innuendo.

This wedding was a two-day stage-play, the actors were the people getting married and their priests, and it was obvious that they knew exactly what to do and when, and they were doing this to honour their god and their family . The tying of the knots was a genuinely romantic moment. Beats the hell out of ‘I do’.

The Indians in general are very nice people, extremely intelligent, focussed on the job, and generous toward others, in every way. We have had nothing but positive vibe from everyone we met, people go out of their way for us without thought of reward.

Service is good. We never have to clear our throats for attention in a shop, to stop the staff chatting or rearranging the stock. As soon as we are ready to buy or even look as if we need some help, someone appears from stage left. I guess they can afford to have plenty of staff when they are not as tied down with strict labour and pay rules we have in Australia. I’d venture to say that few of the people we deal with have any of the luxuries of modern life that we in Australia have come to take for granted. Few would have ever been overseas, many would not have ventured outside their own city more than a days bus ride. But they all have work, they all eat well and they seem much more contented within the family than Australians and Americans.

The kids are well-mannered and self-disciplined, and charmingly loving toward each other. If western kids behaved like this, our families would be a lot happier.

Alcohol is not part of the culture at all. We have never been served or offered alcohol since we arrived here. We had to go out of our way to find a bottle of gin for our happy-hour g&t’s. The locals don’t seem to booze, and that is reflected in the behaviour of people on the streets late at night. We had no problem walking around at midnight in a strange neighbourhood, flagging down tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw as they call them)

Cigarette smoking is rare. No-one at the wedding party smoked, and that was over a thousand people. I haven’t smelt cigarette smoke since we arrived in India last Thursday. We spotted a guy smoking on the footpath last night and it was cause for comment between us.

When our tuk-tuk got lost in back-streets at midnight last night, a small crowd gathered from passers-by to give directions. We all had a laugh including the taxi-driver, the locals worked out our destination from the hotel business card and pointed the driver on his way.

The side streets are dusty and cluttered with rubbish in a lot of areas but the people are always meticulous about their personal hygiene. Never a whiff of body odour from even the beggars in the street. Hand washing before and during meals is standard fare. Everyone seems to have clean clothes, even the street sweepers. The stories of squalor and filth are a bit of a furphy from what we have seen so far.

Bangalore is a non-tourist city, we see less than ten white people in any day. The IT and outsourcing people from USA and Australia just come here, stay in five-star hotels, make their decisions then go home. Because there are almost no tourists here, there is little street crime.

It has been a big help having Rakesh here to point us in the right direction all the time. As the grooms brother he is staying at the family house to help with the ceremonies and general organising of things. We are a party of four Aussies and we stand out like a sore thumb. We have a nice serviced apartment, three bedrooms, three bathrooms for around $100 a day. A big thanks to Rakesh for organising everything, we’d have been a bit too cautious if we didn’t have a local on our team. “

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