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Adventures with Alisha

The Indian Heat

INDIA | Thursday, 9 June 2011 | Views [708]

The only time I've ever been immersed in a different culture was when I visited India in one summer of my early college years.  As a 1.5 generation Indian female of America, I have ties to the country my parents and I both came from.  However, growing up in the United States, has of course, given me a very mixed identity and I relate to being American as my primary identity.  This isn't to say that I don't like the Indian part of myself or that I don't want anything to do with it.  It has taken years of understanding for me to appreciate my Indian values and see how they influence my decisions.

The one thing I particularly remember about India is that everyone is just so friendly to each other.  Of course, it is also a country filled with as many poor people as they are rich, so a person does have to be careful traveling there.  Nevertheless, when I traveled to New Delhi, I received the best help anyone, even a citizen living in the country, could get from someone sharing their passenger's car with them.  One gentlemen informed me that contrary to popular belief, in New Delhi, getting a taxi is much cheaper than a rickshaw.  Since a lot of tourists go to New Delhi, rickshaw drivers overprice because it's what people who don't live in India envision as the main mode of public transportation available in India.  However, if you pre-order a taxi ticket at a stand, you pay less, wait less, have more room, and all you have to do is give the ticket to the taxi driver once you enter.  It's a flat fee, but definitely safe and ultimately more cost-effective.

I was so surprised about this information because even my uncle hadn't known about it and he's lived in India his whole life.  After we stepped off the platform, the other gentlemen accompanied us to the stall where you could buy the taxi tickets and made sure we got the right one and then he bid us farewell.  I know that it seems unlikely, but it really happened!  My uncle had told me earlier that in India, everyone believes that everyone in that country is their brother and sister.  This experience made me realize that while it's sentimental, there may be some truth to that statement.  And what baffles me is how they manage to stay so friendly in the sweltering heat.  But then again, if everyone else is subject to the same conditions as you, you invariably get along.  It's really still a phenomenal thing though.  In the United States, depending on how far East you go, nobody has time for you and it's even daunting to stop someone on the sidewalk to ask for directions to get some place, let alone to get advice on what's the cheapest way on how to spend money on transportation.  I am hoping that the Chinese are as hospitable!  If I'm not mistaken, it is a very cultural, Asian thing.

Tags: friendliness, hospitality, india, rickshaws, taxis

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