Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Meltdown In Madras (Chennai)

Originally uploaded by kathrynparry41.

It ended as it begun.

Today whilst walking through a market I suddenly felt tears crawl up my throat and I had a little cry.

The tears fell for no real reason except I was hot, flustered and sick of people giving me the wrong directions and pretending they don't understand when I say things like rickshaw, taxi and bank!

Today is my last day in India and despite feeling a little sad to be leaving I am excited to commence the next adventure that is in store for me.

It's funny to think that only a few days ago I spoke of my ability to understand India but being here in a big city(an ugly city at that) I realise there are so many things that I just don't understand and never will and perhaps it was arrogant for me even to think that I had.

Yesterday, on arrival at my hotel after my taxi driver got himself lost and I utilised my Lonley Planet map to direct us (yes me directing a taxi in India), my driver decided to follow me into the foyer pretending to assist with my bags (he watched me carry them).

When I asked how much for a single room the price seemed expensive so I informed them of my intention to leave. The taxi driver looked forlorn and on exit I firmly stated I will not stay anywhere where people pay commission ( when someone takes you to a shop/restaurant/hotel they expect a fee) especially not to the worst taxi driver in all of India.

Suddenly the driver giggled and nodded his head which to me and you means no but here where everything is reversed means yes and said 'can you pay me more money then', I laughed in his face, I couldn't believe the audacity of the taxi driver who got us lost asking for commission then a tip and I looked at him and said blankly 'I paid the fare already'. I decided to go somewhere else.

Suddenly the manager followed me and the room rate went down by half, 'sorry madam, what are we to do, he asks for commission' and I replied 'why don't you just tell him to get F%$#ed, you are in the Lonely Planet, he doesn't even know where your hotel is and you think to reward him'.

This is a typical Indian conversation, they tend to go round in circles for ages and given Indians wag their head for yes usually someone gets confused.

Other things I don' get are banks that don't change money, travellers cheques or forgien currencies, Internet cafes without Internet, black coffee with milk and sugar, and Parrys corner without an apostrophe.

I know I will look back on these last 6 weeks and cherish the memories and the good friends I have made, I can easily identify the moment when the Chai wallah debated with my friend Joel on the train that I first saw an India to adore, but today when it is hot and everything is hard I am happy to be going so I can order a steak (2 months of vegetarianism is killing me).

On reflection, the thing about India is that it wants to continue to surprise you, just when you think you hate the place something incredible happens, something more beautiful than words and when you get lulled into this beauty the ugliness rears its head.

When I look back at my entry Mother India I am filled with joy for all that has happened from then until now has put me back together and despite my tears this morning I am confident that I am a stronger and wiser for the experience.

1 comment:

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