I arrive in Bengalore the 28th of November 2015 at 2:30 in the morning. You will tell me that is not hard to beat but the airport is more modern and more beautiful then Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Nalini is there to meet me she lives 20 minutes away and will be in no time in a comfortable bed. We are alone on the road. Now this is not what I expected of my entering India. I was announced millions of people. No one is sleeping on the side of the road, no cows in sight. Always travel without expectations and pre-fabricated ideas, I am reminded.
However going into the world sometimes means going into the traffic. That we do that same day under a rainy sky. I am hosted in what you could call, a nearby suburb. Twenty five minutes when all goes well. Easily double that time all the time. That is Bengalore’s traffic has a soul of its own. If you are not from here, you need a chauffeur, there is no doubt. The quantity of vehicles and motorcycles added to the record pot holes and road management and many other reasons I suppose. You want to go from A to B and make your way as fast as possible. Straight forward, hardly look right or left. Just go, if not you will stop the entire process and get nowhere.
I came wondering how can so many people manage to live together and the first message I get on this first outing is: Be impolite, everyone for itself push your way through if not you die. Can 1.2 billion people think only of themselves or does it concern the driving only?
Corruption: It is part of life and one the great challenges such a poverty and malnutrition. Wiki says so and was surprise that a country would just let itself be identify with corruption as a simple fact. On the second evening, I am invited to the Bengalore Club where musiciens from the Coorg district are invited to play. The club exist since 1868, it has 7000 members but tonight in the garden where the event takes place, no liquor will be served. The government has taken away the permit. Why? Because the club refused to pay the bribe and allow a number of “government officials” to be free members. They might have used the word honorific members.
But I am in the country of Shiva , the incorruptible, the god of god, the destroyer of evil. I’ll ask him what he thinks of that when I visit many corner street temples?
“We will have it back” they say… not Shiva’s incorruptibility but the liquor permit.
Food… it could be one word that unites all Indians. It can be accompanied with the expression “same, same but different.” Indians focus on their differences and not their similarities. They appreciate the creativity of other districts with their cuisine but they eat what their district has invented repeating constantly how different it is in the other part of their state, or in the neighbouring one. Not to mention the constantly reminder of the difference between the North and the South India, the two countries in one still to discover.
“What is your staple food?” I am asked. The northern garden comes to my mind with its carrots, potatoes, cabbage, beets and little more come to mind, but I realize that we do not discuss our creativity and our inventions we have created with these food. Maybe we were not that inventive in northern Canada. A little more in Quebec maybe. We discuss the recipe we learned while enjoying the Italien, French, Chinese, Moroccans and the Indian dishes as well. We made sure to import all their spices. We tastes and we went home to make it our own, not our own in our province or state, but in our kitchen. The creativity is more of an individual one within our homes. We want the world to come and bring diversity in our plates. Here, we speak of the diversity but it is of our own invention that we are proud of and that is what we eat, morning, noon and night. The world has not yet come to the Indian home’s kitchen. Pizza Hut, however, is there in the city.
So 1,2 billion people manage to live together by concentrating on the differences instead of the similarities? That it a school of thought I need to dig a little more into. Mine is quite the opposite . It says that we must first learn about the similarities to really “desire” the difference.
With a little more or less then $290 dollars a month income, it has to do with “eat what is in your garden and be creative with it.” That might just be fine.
Creativity is one staple food of India. Will look into this and this.