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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some last notes from India - goodbye for now

Another thing I noticed was that there are so many men!!!!! Today I’ve seen thousands and thousands and thousands of male Indians, but I spotted only a handful of women! What a strange thing. Where are they all? Are they safely at home, cooking, cleaning and looking after the kids, while the men work hard out on the streets, trying to earn a few rupees by either scamming the tourists, or maintaining the roads, or sweeping the dirt, or pushing carts, or making their greasy delicacies??? I guess so…

I must admit I felt this to be a real mans world, this Mumbai. But it didn’t bother me too much and I wasn’t phased by their harsh approach that dominates absolutely everything in the city. I wasn’t daunted by their glares and I didn’t get annoyed once. I didn’t feel the way I’ve felt on a daily basis in Kerala, when the stares would come. Nope. Today I found it normal for them to look. I could understand why the men would be appalled to see a ‘young’ foreign girl ON HER OWN, wandering the streets of Mumbai, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. I can understand the disgust of these men, towards me. I know it’s nothing personal… and I know it’s because their own wives and daughters would never ever be permitted such freedom. So, I was fine, I was wary and yes, I felt that the stares were justified, so I wasn’t frustrated. And because most of the men were all very tough, harsh and unable to speak English, I became more friendly and appreciative when some of them DID have some friendliness to share with me. Yes, it was a very different experience. Maybe because it’s my last day, maybe it’s because I realize how inexperienced I really am. Yes, I realize how little I know about countries, about travel, about customs, and about the religions that dominate the minds of the millions and millions of people.

After today and my short encounter with Mumbai, I can’t say I’ve lost any love for India at all. Instead I’ve probably gained more inspiration for the diversity that’s here and more of a willingness to learn, to see, to experience and to document their lives (for some strange reason). Today has made me want to return of course and to explore beyond Kerala. Today has also made me want to connect with people again from other places other than India.

So I’m feeling better about leaving, compared to the last time. I don’t mind moving on, and I know for a fact I’ll return. I also know for a fact that now it’s time to leave. So I’m happy. I took the last rickshaw from the station to the airport. He overcharged me, but I didn’t care… I loved every minute of the ride and when I paid him, I didn’t throw the money at him (like I did to the rickshaw driver back in July 2010 who also overcharged me for the same ride). Nope. I gave it to him and thanked him, I told him how much I loved his country and that I would be back. He didn’t understand English, but I think he got my drift…

So this was my goodbye to India for the 2nd time round… I wonder when the next time will be. I’ll never stop looking forward.

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