And then, i have been travelling. In the truest sense of packing bags and going to a place and coming back. Old places- but nevertheless, a different picture.
A couple of weeks back I was in Delhi on a suit booted official trip. We were taking a few people from the US to meet some companies. As usual, the long travel was an ice breaker topic - they got started on their harrowing flight experiences, new airport rules, security procedures... And then one of them said 'You know the 100ml rule for carrying liquids? So i had to finish with the security and then buy my 6 pack mineral water bottle - plus what a pain carrying it around'. And I was stunned! This person had actually bought mineral water all the way from United States in preparation of a 3 day stay in India. I mean- didn't they think we had mineral water? What was the deal?
From there on it only got worse. Here i was thinking that these people would go all rave about India ( an impression gained from eager travellers) - and all i got was the side effectc of malaria and other injections taken in prep for this trip. The best comments - "This place no longer looks like a third world country". And "This city looks like Shanghai 15 years ago". And this comment was about Delhi after having been put up in the Taj, having lunch in Intercontinental, and cruising around some of the best parts of the city. I dreaded to even wonder about what they would have to say about Mumbai.
Their comments actually got me seeing our country from their eyes (while some of it like the mineral water bottles of course extreme and ridiculous). Maybe when people do rave about this country, its more because its like an incredible freak show they see over here. I mean, who in their sane minds would want to travel in the over crowded Mumbai trains? But that is something that is commented on in almost every travel report in a 'U won't believe it' sort of narration.
And as for all of us, I feel as if we all so bought on the 'India Story' - bought too much into it. We do have a lot of good going for us - but we are so focused on shouting out loud about our new found glory, that we have failed to notice our shortcomings - which could eventually be our undoing. Either that or we have grown complacent. Take for example Mumbai - While every non-mumbaiite acknowledges the pathetic state of this city - not a single mumbaiite will - they have grown so used to the state of the city, that there only excuse is the unmanageable population. And that's their defence for everything that's wrong in this city.
One of the other comments that also caught my attention...
"This is the outcome of being the largest democracy - it is almost impossible to implement any reform. Look at China. People dont have much of a say against the government, but every strata of the economy has grown. Minimum quality of life is much higher. At the end of the day, I don't care for democracy, when I don't have a plate of food on my table for every meal and no place to sleep."
Very true. However I'd hate to think of a dictatorship in the hands of a wrong person in this country - which is what would happen most likely, if it ever were to! While I wonder where the solution lies, I hope it doesn't become too late for our country.