Musings From the Bus

Getting around in India is a bit of a challenge as means for traveling from one place to another are limited. On this journey, we ladies traveled mostly by bus. While our driver was very competent, there were some pretty scary moments on roads so narrow that it seemed as if vehicles traveling in opposite direction were playing chicken! Add to that the deplorable condition of most roads and travel becomes a nightmare! Bumping over them made my teeth hurt or maybe that was due to my jaws being so tightly clenched!

Slowing down progress were the cows moving aimlessly on the roads. Honking did nothing to move them along, and cows being sacred, one dare not hit them.

Speaking of cows, they strike me as pitiful. They are undernourished with most of their food appearing to be whatever they can forage on the street. When they are hot or tired, there’s nothing more than dirt or a hard surface on which to lay. I wished again and again for them to have someone to care for them.

Our travel was limited to Rajasthan, and as we passed through the countryside it became clear that much of India is a third world country. In most areas families dwelt in structures no larger than 12×12 without bathrooms, running water or electricity. Few had windows or doors and I wondered how the homes stayed dry during the monsoon season. Perhaps it was the more fortunate who had homes as there were a number of tents serving as shelter. The tent was often no more than cloth thrown over a pole and fixed to the ground with stakes.

Except in market areas we didn’t see as many women as men. Men gathered in groups beneath shaded areas. Women drew water from pumps, did laundry, cooked over open fire, bathed children and all the other things wives/mothers do.

Sometimes they were observed herding goats providing yet another obstacle on the narrow roads.

While it was not uncommon to see men dressed in western clothing, women were always attired in colorful traditional garb the colors of which changed from area to area.

Before coming to India, I was told by friends from here to expect to see poverty and dirt. Even so, the degree is overwhelming, and I’m thinking it will be a long time before India can deal with all its challenges. How to improve quality of life for more than a billion people strikes me as an almost insurmountable task. I think it was in Varanasi the guide used the term “to see the life”. That is what I’m experiencing, and I am grateful for opportunity that opens my eyes to life that is so different from my own. How to make a difference in the world is the question I keep asking myself. Considering the hours left on the bus, I have plenty of time to think about it.

21 thoughts on “Musings From the Bus

  1. Your post sums up all the reasons why I’ve never wanted to travel to India. I was in the Delhi airport for a connecting flight when I was young but that is it. It seems that very little has changed since my father was stationed there during the war…such a shame. Thank goodness that most people there have strong religious beliefs to get them through their trying times.

  2. I am amazed at such poverty and over population. Yet it appears living a simple life offers these people a peace in some of the photos. Maybe there is something to that, something more than we know. Great pictures

    1. Tina, you got it. I’ve felt a contentment existing among these people.

  3. Oh, Linda, I find this all so dreadful and just cannot personally deal with it. Do you think this is how it has been, this way of life, for so long that these people just exist in it? Knowing nothing different? Do you see people reading? I have talked to others who have been there and although they found things to like, India was just not a favorite place for them. Makes us think about our lives a little more, doesn’t it?

    1. Strangely there’s a level of contentment that is refreshing. Things will and are changing, but it will take some time. I’m glad to see it before it changes.

      1. I’d say this has been a discovering adventure, Linda. And glad you got to experience the “before change” part.

  4. Thank you Linda for showing us a glimpse of the poverty! It reminds me of our 12 days in Togo West Africa, you have to see it first hand to realize the magnitude!

  5. Once again the only words I have are I can’t imagine…it is so incredible that so much poverty and suffering is going on in today’s world where in North America we can’t survive without cell phones, air conditioning and It must be so awkward viewing these people as westerners with such different lifestyles, and experiencing luxury travel to see their impoverished lives…thank you for sharing your experiences,

    1. Even among the impoverished there are cell 📞. They provide a way for uneducated to communicate.

  6. lulu – thanks for this rich post and your pictures and words allowed me to fee the culture so well – how sad about the poverty and I could feel your heart stirred – also the cow photo says much – I looked at it again and again

    1. I so appreciate your comment and sensitivity.

  7. Thanks for sharing your photos Linda! You might enjoy these Indian street photos by Raghubir Singh, in a current exhibition at the Met in NYC:

    1. That would be a treat. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. The Amazing Race showed much of the same photos which I find very interesting but so poor. Were the roads worse than our Kenya roads?

  9. I just can’t even begin to imagine the extent of the poverty there. The infrastructure must be a nightmare because there’s no relief with that many people crammed in. We take an awful lot for granted here in the U.S. with multiple bathrooms, running water, a dedicated kitchen, electricity, multiple televisions, every member of the household with their own phone, streets, animal control, sprawling/well stocked grocery stores, lots of open green space at least within a short drive away from major cities..the list goes on and on. We have cows on several farms near our home, and NONE of them look like those cows!!! I couldn’t even recognize that photo as having a cow in it with that weird hump! I think it’s a great experience to see how others live in this world whether it’s halfway around the world or across town. We need to know so that if for no other reason we can thank God for all we have. Great post! Stay safe on those dodgy roads!

  10. Wonder if you might enjoy reading the travel blog of an interesting couple traveling the world. They are in India right now. Posts are usually just once a week, full of wonderful photography. I’ve enjoyed your posts as well.

  11. Billie Marasa Keirstead November 5, 2017 — 11:33 am

    I certainly admire you for taking this trip but it is one I would never want to take. Just seeing your photos makes me hurt. My personal philosophy is that over population is the biggest problem on the planet, without which resources would not be as critically short and the impact on the environment would not be as great. While Mother Teresa is now a saint, from my perspective she did more harm than good encouraging poor and usually sickly women to continue to bear more and more children who would be beggars in the streets. It is alarming that anyone could see this as a good thing. I hope the growing economy in parts of India begin to solve the many problems of dealing with a billion people but I fear not much will change. We are becoming a dangerous virus on the planet and Mother Nature knows how to deal with viruses.

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