Greeted with a head wobble and a smile, I felt the warmth and kindness of India’s people everywhere. So I was surprised to see the serious social divisions from which most foreigners are exempt.
Men vs. Women
India would fall apart without it’s women. Women cook, clean, rear children and often hold jobs outside the home – hauling stacks of firewood, selling crops in markets, working in factories, cleaning homes and the like. Finding motivation in the darkest places, these women work relentlessly to provide opportunities for their children.
Meanwhile, many of the men in rural India are simply hanging around, “time-pass” as they say. They watch the days events unfold around them as if they were unable to participate. Boring? No way. Just add a little alcohol and let the hanging around continue. Infuriating!
Rich vs. Poor
Beyond gender, the societal divisions in India are pretty apparent anywhere you go. Walk into any 5 star hotel or restaurant and you need not look beyond the belly to see the class system at work. The wealthy Indians are usually fat, mean and oddly preoccupied with exuding a Western, non-Indian image. Due to the scowls on their faces or exorbitantly expensive establishments that they inhabited, my exposure to this lot was limited. Not to worry, I’m still willing to say that most rich people in India can suck it (and based on their ever expanding backsides, they took my advise and are sucking on ghee).
Look inside India’s poorest villages and you will find the purest form of happiness. With ever-present smiles and a willingness to share all that they have, India’s less than blessed captured my heart. It’s so easy to fall into the cycle of chasing and wanting so much that you’re forever unsatisfied. In these tiny villages, people don’t know what they’re missing, so they don’t miss it. They simply satisfy basic needs and work to meet personal goals and humble ambitions. The kindness and generosity from those most unfit to spare it was admirable.
Of course these observations do not apply to ALL Indians. Rest assured that Dr. Koothrappali from The Big Bang Theory is a popular representation of legions of accomplished Indian men (Note: I’m using a fictional character to be offensively humorous). And wealth does not always erode ones moral fibre. My brief travels in and around a handful of small Southern Indian towns aren’t enough to substantiate such sweeping statements about India’s people, but it’s enough to raise an eyebrow.