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.