Belgium - Australia on an BMW R1100 GS motorcycle, solo.
Report #15 - November 19th to December 2nd, 1998...
BMW quality and other bike issues
From Goa I have to get back to Mumbai to pick up the new tyres. I start backtracking early Thursday morning. The road is now familiar to me - this trip goes smoothly. I now know where the bumps in the road are, and there is nothing else breaking off the bike. But just as I have left a small village I hear "crack!", and it seems as though my saddle has given way. I park the bike, and after some searching I spot a broken frame tube. Initially I panic slightly. "How and where am I to solve this problem?", I ask myself desperately. I could ride on, but I expect the frame to be totally bent after my arrival in Mumbai.
So I return to the village about 3 miles back. I am (somewhat) in luck: about two years ago a man who formerly worked as a technician for an oil refinery for years opened up a shop here. He is used to dealing with high-tech stuff, and he even has computer-controlled equipment to line wheels! This lining business is huge, many cars and trucks almost drive sideways because their wheels are not in line. His problem: making people understand lining wheels will save tyres... He also has an ultra-modern welding machine, and he expertly welds the broken frame. Some bending back, pushing and pulling, and the bike is in its original shape again. When afterwards I ask him about the price, he does something smart: "Give me what you think it was worth". I give him 100 rupees (two and a half dollars), and he is immensely pleased.
I leave with my fixed bike, and a dent in the confidence of BMW stuff being reliable. A list of parts that have been broken, not caused by a crash: the frame tube, speedometer cable and clutch lever have been broken, a case support has come off, and the ABS is defect. Defects caused by crashes: the hooks of both cases, one case lid, a case support and both indicators. This list is a bit long for me, but I don't know yet that the worst is still to come.
At the next fuel stop I notice the right case is covered with oil specks. The connection of the rear wheel and the cardan axle has been a bit loose for a few days now. Normally this is adjusted during the regular maintenance checkups, but the Pakistan roads have taken their toll. The oil comes from from the rear bearing, where the cardan axle is connected to the rear axle. The oil level is still acceptable, and with a lot of attention from the crowd I put the rear wheel back on the bike. The rear brake suffers from the oil - it leaks on the brake disk. I decide to give this more attention in Mumbai.
Because of all this stopping I arrive in Mumbai after sunset. Fortunately I have left the National Highway long ago, trucks here don't carry head lights, not even when they drive side by side. During the day I have trouble with this, but I sure don't want to encounter them in the dark. I select a hotel near the airport so I can get hold of my tyres as quickly as possible.
According to the sign, customs opens at 10 AM, but the officers don't arrive until 11. After that hour of waiting the tyres appear not to be in the 'luggage' department, but in the 'common goods'. The procedure to get them through customs will take three days!!! I suck up to the late-coming chief as if my life depended on it, and he allows to treat the tyres like it is 'luggage'. I arrange one of the pushy cargo officers to handle this process, but it takes him two hours as well to get the papers fixed up for the other department. The tyres have reached the right department, and I'm going for lunch. When I get back at 2:30 we are (un)pleasantly entertained for another hour and a half. At 4 PM I leave the customs area with my tyres, leaving behind a stunned cargo officer. He asked for 2,500 rupees, but had to settle for the 500 I gave him.
That night I cross Mumbai looking for someone who has seen a tyre without an inner tube. There are very few of them: some don't even believe there are bikes with tubeless tyres. Let alone a person who is able to change one with a specialized machine. Using tyre levers will damage the rim of the wheel, causing punctures. At last, I reach a person by phone on Saturday morning, telling me he has changed one of those bike tyres before. Bad news: I have to enter the center of the city again - one and a half hour of riding through the polluted air.
International Tyre Service turns out not to have a machine, but they do have experience. A traveler on a Honda ST1100 had a rupture (!) fixed here in his tubeless tyre. The pictures are dug up to show me how they did this. I take a chance, and talk a bit with Sujon Chaudri, the owner of the shop. He reaaly knows everything about tyres! He also has computer-controlled equipment to line wheels. Turns out he has a column in a magazine called 'Car & Bike'. My tyres are changed very carefully by hand, and meanwhile mister Chaudri calls Bob Rupani, the chief editor of 'Car & Bike'.
An hour later I'm at the office of this man, and an hour and a half later I'm a freelance author and European correspondent for the main car and bike magazine in India. My world trip will be featured in three episodes, in the English translation of Niek, of course in condensed form. Some 24 pages in total, if all goes according to plan.
We talk about the roads and the behavior of the Indian road users. Experience shows there is no way to travel quickly in this country: you have to get on the shoulder of the road for every truck you encounter. Furthermore, it turns out I have traveled the 'wrong' roads: the one with the deadly accident is known throughout India. And there is more: going north (Kanha National Park) I will get to see more of those roads. But Bob also has some good news: I receive a long list of cities and hotels which should be comfortable.
When I finally track him down on the other side of Mumbai, Johnnie Motorbike cannot help me fix the oil leakage. We talk about his BMW expertise (which is not all that great: he has worked on a BMW in Goa - but I already knew that). He owns a ZZR1100 and there is a CBR1000 belonging to a customer. So I'm not the only one with a heavy bike! We tighten the cardan axle, but without the proper tools we can't get rid of all the wobbling.
The roads in India
The road cargo traffic is growing at twice the pace as the economy in India. In 1950 there were 300,000 vehicles on the orad, now there are 30 million. The capacity is 88 times that of 1950, and there are 70 times as many passengers. The trip from Delhi to Ahmedabad (I've traveled that road for the larger part) took about 24 hours for a truck in 1962, using one-lane roads only. Now this route is completely two lanes, and some parts even have four lanes (in India there is a grand total of 548 miles of four-lane roads). Now this same trip takes 50 hours.
Most of the roads are constructed poorly. There is no water disposal, causing problems in the ground under the road during the monsoon. The road isn't elevated, and therefor there is no foundation giving it the necessary stability. The consequence: the 'floating' asphalt cracks up and potholes are formed. This country is very poor: there is no money for quality repairs. In Pakistan this is a job for the men of the army, here this is done by women: they fill the potholes with chopped-up rocks (which they carry in a basket on their heads) and some tar, and then this is compacted with their feet. Until the next monsoon. There is some 24,000 miles of national highways - a quality solution is unaffordable.
The train offers no solution as well: the infrastructure is inadequate. Sixty percent of all the cargo is transported over the roads, although the costs are very high. Trucks break down, the cargo is in transport for too long, and it consumes too much fuel. Half of the costs for container shipment from Delhi to Hamburg is taken up by the trip Delhi - Mumbai. (With my thanks to the magazine 'India Today' for these stats.)
The roads have taken India in a deathly grip, and I can't see a way out.
The 400 miles from Goa to Mumbai were reasonably quiet. I count a mere 5 truck wrecks. That is an average of 80 miles per wreck. But from Mumbai to Nagpur this number drops to 20 miles per wreck. But maybe they don't clear up wrecks during the weekend. I do make great time, probably because traffic is lighter on Sundays, and I travel about 450 miles.
The worst day of my trip
After Nagpur I continue for one hour to reach Rookhad. Bob's list features 'Bison Retreat', it is located next to a Bison park. I am the sole guest in the four rooms, six servants place. I spend my evening eating and talking for a long time with the manager. This hotel is government owned - the prices are fixed, the investments are approved centrally, the manager has to get permission to take a day off. This place is unique, but could do with some fixing up.
My room is very moist, but I've seen worse. For some reason I take the opened pack of cookies out of my bike suit and put it on the table. Usually I leave them in my jacket and give them away when I buy a new pack during morning tea. I take the second blanket as well from the other bed; it is much colder here than it was in Mumbai.
In the middle of the night I wake up to the sound of a rat opening up my pack of cookies. The table is at the other side of the room, and the rat drags the cookies behind the air conditioner, where I can't reach it. I wish the beast a good meal, and go back to sleep. But one hour later it is on the head side of my bed eating a cookie! This is too much for me, and I chase away the rat. A while later it is back again, but now it is searching for the warmth of my body. A rat in my bed! I lay down a trail of cookie crums, leading to the plastic trash bin in which I drop the last cookie which I manage to retrieve from behind the air conditioner. It is very cold in my room.
Some time later the rat falls for it: he is in the bin and can't get out because of the slick inside of the bin. I put the top of the table on the bin and get back in bed. But now I'm cold to the bone, and I can't fall asleep. For half an hour the rat attempts to jump out of the bin, but then keeps quiet. As soon as it gets light I get up to take a shower. The water heater is not switched on, and I wash myself with cold water.
The manager tries to get me a Jeep to take a tour in the bison park. Today is the last day for the elections, and all cars are rented by politicians to campaign. No bisons for me today. So I retreat. No sleep, no shower, no bison: no reasons to stay here. I want to get to Kanha National Park, using the secondary roads Bob has advised me.
I stop in Seoni to get some motor and cardan oil. The rear brake still works bad, and more so after the oil is replenished, the leakage is worse. After Seoni there is no traffic anymore. In an instance everything is different. I ride on country roads in a slow pace, and I'm able to look around me without having to stop. No trucks trying to end my life. The scenery is fairly flat, with grass fields and some agriculture. There are patches with trees, mainly teak. Sometimes I cross a village, where no one is working. The political campaign is in full swing. Everywhere there are flags and music is playing. There are a lot of people in the streets.
In one of these villages it is very crowded. I ride slowly, looking at the cheerful crowd. I don't notice a Jeep coming from the left until it's too late. He hasn't seen me either, the driver was talking to a pedestrian. The collision throws me off my bike, and I land on my hip. The next days it will get all colors from dark blue to light yellow. My wrist is slightly bruised, but I can still continue.
But the right case has been trapped under the bike, the support has been broken again, like in Jordan. The newly welded clasp is bent and the indicator light has come off. The damage seems to be not that bad. In the same village I splint the broken support with some custom-made iron strips and we bend the clasp reasonably straight again. I glue together the indicator and Bob's your uncle.
The road is bad and the rear tyre is covered with oil in the right side - the bike isn't doing too well, but apart from that I notice nothing wrong. 6 miles up the road the frame breaks again. Softly I start cursing my bad fortune. "If only I had gone from Pakistan to Nepal, like I intended to", I think, while riding very slowly to the next reasonably large city: Nainpur. I find a welder, who damages the paint of the frame on several places with his electrode, almost sets fire to the plastic housing of the air filter, but finally manages to put the frame back together again. It looks ugly, but I stopped caring about that long ago. He asks 15 rupees (about 35 dollar cents), and to be honest I think that's too much.
After I've arrived in Kanha National Park I take up residence with Eric D'Cunha and his 'Wild Chalet Resort'. This is a place for eco tourists, with small cabins and an open air restaurant where they serve delicious meals. The price for walk-in guests is somewhat steep, but Eric thinks up a trick which makes it affordable. A fire is constructed for me in the water heater, behind the cabin I've been given. Meanwhile I circle my bike and to my dismay I see the front wheel is bent. It is about one centimeter out of line with the rear wheel. Further damage consists of the ABS construction in the front wheel, and the front suspension makes a clicking sound when I turn the steer. I forget about the shower for now, and order a cool glass of beer to help me get over this.
Eric and his staff take really good care of me, and I get to meet the other guests. They have arrived here with other means. Flying to Delhi, and from there with first class train and car with private driver to the parks. No stress about the traffic - merely surprise. All evening long we talk about wild animals, bike trips and politics. At 4:45 AM they wake us up, we have to get to the heart of the park before sunrise. The animals will show the most action at this time. With a small Jeep and guide we are off into the park, looking for tigers.
We don't get to see a single tiger, but the guide does explain how to track one down. We look at tracks in the sand and listen with the engine killed in the direction of the 'alarm calls'. An alarm call is a specific sound animals in a group make to warn each other for oncoming danger. The woods are filled with 'spotted deer'. They make a loud "tjrreech" sound which is audible over long distances. We listen to the sounds of the jungle, and plan our route accordingly. I find this to be more exciting than seeing a tiger. We drive through the jungle for hours, and hear the alarm calls of monkeys and deer.
In teh afternoon we return to the jungle, and this time we have more luck: we track down two tigers which are roaring to each other on opposite sides of a grass field. It is the time of the year tigers are busy with getting offspring - our guide thinks we are driving between two tigers-in-love. We don't get to see either of them, we have to leave the park at sunset. But I thoroughly enjoy looking around - I never saw so many animals in their natural surroundings. That evening I start reading a bird identification book, but I've seen so many species it's confusing me. During evening meal we talk about lots of things. I end up in a heated discussion with an Italian about the way tiger poaching should be fought.
Actually I planned on leaving the next day, but Eric proposes I could leave in the afternoon, so I could have another trip in the park in the morning. This trip we get to see a tiger. He is tracked down by the park personnel using elephants. We abandon our own search, and go to the indicated place. Elephants have nothing to fear from tigers, not even when they are carrying people. We are put on elephants, and we enter the dense jungle. There we see a tiger lying, looking a bit bored. I estimate we were already looking at the tiger for 5 minutes, before I spotted the Sambar deer which was killed by the tiger two days ago. The tiger is guarding its prey! We shoot our pictures as well as we are able through the dense foliage, and satisfied I go on my way to the next park: Bandhavgarh.
Eric is the manager of two hotels: one in Kanha, and another in Bandhavgarh. The hotel in Bandhavgarh is called 'Tiger Trails', and the cabins are somewhat nicer and a bit more expensive. This is a bit too much for my budget, and I ask Anil Banyal, in charge of the daily business, if I can enter the park with the other guests, although I will stay in another, cheeper hotel. He offers me free accomodation! I only pay for the food and the safaris. Bandhavgarh is much smaller than Kanha, and pretty hilly. I immediately like this environment better, but when we spot three tigers right away that morning, I have made up my mind. The tigers are three brothers, 15 months old, on their way to their mother, which is a few miles away. We follow them through the jungle, sitting on the elephants.
Temples in honor of women
After enjoying the hospitality of Anil and his employees it is time for Khajuraho. Once there were 85 temples built on this site, of which 22 are still in existence. I took a look at four of them. What's unique about them, is that they all honor the woman. 'Worship' is a better word, but that is more for the gods they serve in these temples.
In the Muslim countries women are suppressed, or men act like they don't exist. The Hindu woman is not as liberated as her western colleague, but I find the fact that men consider women to be a part of their lives to be a definite improvement. The realisation: "without women no men" has penetrated here. And these temples form some nice exapmples of that notion. In the many, many pictures only women and gods are present. Sometimes there are men, but only in cases where they serve and please women. From the outside the temples are covered with images of women, in all shapes and expressions. Some are sexually explicit: copulating people, sometimes in group sex. Seems I have to go read a book about how to reach Nirvana via this activity, like Tantra-ism (?) has explained it.
I dine in a restaurant called "New Delhi", where Renuka Naik is in charge. She has moved to Khajuraho two years ago, bringing her family, to get away from the stress and pollution of New Delhi. Her eldest daughter is ready to take up studying, she will attend the university of Bangalore. We talk (she is very fluent in English) about the social networks in a small community like Khajuraho, and how this community is denying her her customers by refusing the riksjas and taxis from dropping off customers at her place. I think some strategically placed signs will attract more business. Her husband drops in later as well, this makes me realize again what the place is for Hindu women. Even when her husband turns out to be an uncivilized guy who cannot even begin to live up to the standards of his wife. What initially the person was in charge of this restaurant, has now shriveled up to be an obedient lady who cannot stand up to the man chasing away two of the customers.
My next to last stop in India is Varanasi. The city where the river Ganges washes away the sins of the Hindu and takes care of the ashes from the people cremated on its banks. I take the advice of two Israelis and park my bike in the shielded garden of hotel Buddha, in the center of Varanasi. I immediately go to the only Internet cafe in this town (population 1,3 million) to pick up 10 email messages.
The hotel is a budget hotel. Which means you have to ask for a second sheet for your bed, a towel and some toilet paper. This last item is not available, if you want to use that stuff you have to buy it. So the question is: "How am I supposed to perform these tasks?" Every toilet in this area (the Middle East, and all of Asia) is equipped with a tap and a cup or a tube underneath it. After accomplishing the unevitable outcome of eating food, you are supposed to clean yourself with the water from the cup or from the tube. You pour or spray some water with your right hand over your bottom, and 'clean' it with your other hand. And only use your left hand to do that!
Afterwards (with a wet behind and same hand) you get dressed again and you wash your hands. In practice, I find this very unhygienic: in the Islam countries almost all toilets have soap bars, but here these are missing most of the time. Getting dressed using only my right hand doesn't go that well either. The locals are surely very good at this - I rather use paper. But I sure do understand why eating with your left hand is 'not done'.
Anyway, the local population has a better immune system than I do: they wash themselves in the Ganges. I even saw some people making toothbrush gestures using their (right) index finger, and subsequently rinse using the grey water from the river. A small distance away others are throwing the ashes of burned people into the water, even when the incineration wasn't complete. The personal belongings of the deceased are put in the water in small bundles. In between the places where people are bathing or being cremated there is room to dispose of the waste. Children scurry in the smoking remnants of last night's fires looking for usable coals.
In Hinduism, dying is seen as being essential to life itself. One of the most important gods in this religion is exclusively for destruction (Siva). Without destruction there is no (re)birht or growth. Depending on your 'karma' your rebirth will be better or worse; your karma will be better when you live your life the proper way. After a series of rebirths you can reach 'moksha', in which one is freed of the cycles of reincarnations.
The boat trip on the Ganges at 6 AM has its effects on me: this isn't about dirty water, but about spiritual rituals. With an impressive inner rest the deceased are burned on large fires and subsequently put into the water. The bystanders act differently than Christians during a funeral or cremation. The people dying in Varanasi and whose ashes are scathered in the Ganges reach moksha at once.
Right next to one of those cremation places people are washing themselves using the water of the river. They purify themselves of the commited sins because the water is sacred. At 6 in the morning it isn't chilly, it's downright cold! I'm wearing a sweater and my motor jacket, and in the boat I'm watching people in their underwear sprinkling the sacred water on themselves. Some people swim a couple of strokes and they all are very cold. I admire them. Luckily the sun is rising, and the bathers are set in a beautiful pink morning light. The first couple of meditating 'Sadhus' settle themselves on the platforms overseeing the river.
A ride in a bicycle taxi
I go to the 'State Bank of India' in a bicycle taxi to exchange some money. This government bank is the only one accepting travelers cheques, and in Varanasi this bank is quite a bit out of the way. The man piloting and propelling the riksja has to step on the peddles for 15 minutes before we reach the bank. His fee: 10 rupees (25 dollar cents). I give him double that amount.
The road through the city offers a caleidoscope of impressions. The hotel isn't at the through road. I have to go through an alley to get to the place where the riksjas are waiting. At the back of the buildings placed along the main road are the open sewer gutters, supplemented by trash on the streets. A cow scurries through the rubbish, a dog flees at my arrival. Once this dog had a broken leg which (of course) hasn't been set. He disappears hopping.
The riksja driver is tawny: skinny and strong at the same time. He cannot read - he shows the address card to one of the pedestrians who willingly explains how the driver should proceed. I climb into the small box with the (for Europeans too short) bench. We leave. The riksja driver doesn't look around, but simply extends a hand. Some loud honking behind us indicates someone was coming at us. He will have to brake, we aren't stopping.
Along the road there are small shops. One sells a mix of spices wrapped in a leaf, it is meant to be chewed on. This 'paan' produces a mouthful of red stuff apparently stimulating the glands, judging by the streams of red spit users are depositing on the streets. I've tried it once, in Pakistan, and I didn't like it. It tastes very strong, and it contains a stimulating substance comparable with nicotine. Paan is made by the shop keeper (sitting on the ground) following his own, usually secret, recipe. Sometimes it contains cocaine or opium.
The men who are using this stuff a lot have red tongues, dark teeths, and their bodies smell of paan. Truck drivers are mega consumers; they even have bloodshot eyes (but this could also be caused by lack of sleep).
Everywhere around us there is loud honking, apparently just to inform others of their approach. The riksjas have bells on their front suspension, which go off when they slightly apply their brakes. A piece of string is tightened by a lever and it touches the spokes and the bells.
I see a couple of goats lying asleep in the afternoon sun. Some are tight, others don't have a rope around their neck. We stop at a junction. When you break a leg in India, and you don't have any money, you get the same treatment as the dogs: the unset leg gets useless, and the bones grow together in some strange position. You earn your living by begging. Hinduism makes this acceptable: you improve your karma by giving to the beggars. The beggar crawls in between the riksjas, bicycles, scooters and cars. I find this awful, and I have to stop thinking about this too much - my disgust about this country will return.
I'm distracted by four girls of about 10 years in the riksja next to me. Light grey skirt, dark blue sweater, and two tails in their hair, with a red knot. Time has stood still when it comes to school uniforms. The ladies are transported to and from school. Apparently they belong to a higher caste - the riksja driver is unlucky he hasn't got anything else.
We continue our trip, but then we collide with another vehicle, which was cut off by a scooter. There is no argument here - everyone just continues like nothing happened. Complaining is useless. We traverse a part of the city dominated by metal workers. Lathes everywhere. Again we have to stop: a large group of water buffaloes blocks our path. Very slowly traffic squirms past this obstruction. Then there is some food cooking over a wooden fire. Thick smoke, mixed with the smell of fried onions and curry, obscures our view. I start coughing, but the riksja driver continues without problems. We swerve around a pothole. Next to us there is a moped with three boys on it, they just manage to avoid the wheels of the riksja.
A couple of dirty kids of school-going age are playing with an old bicycle tyre and a stick. They expertly roll the tyre through the traffic and the goats. A very old man is almost run over by them. I look at him, and I see him squinting his eyes. I think you can ride your bicycle by the sounds of others, when you don't have any money to buy glasses...
The road steepens, the driver has to give it his very best. Sweat is forming on his forehead. I would have been soaked already, especially since he is wearing a thick sweater. After all, it is winter time, and it is just 27 degrees Celsius! Then we go downwards again, and the speed increases, but some policeman with a fat belly controls the traffic. The riksjas have to stop, but one cyclist tries to peddle on. The officer gets angry, and the cyclist stops. One man in a costume, tie and a briefcase on the back of his scooter still continues, and the officer acts as if he didn't see him.
A crowd is gathering around a man who seems to sell lottery tickets. Suddenly I see lottery tickets everywhere - for some reason similar shops are packed together. The ground is covered with torn-off tickets. Amidst the crowd a cow is consuming a carton box. Nobody pays any attention to this, but I always thought cows ate grass to produce quality cheese. A woman is moulding some cow dung into discs, and she sticks them on the side of a building. When they fall off, the discs are sufficiently dry to be used as (smoking) fuel.
Again traffic slows down - part of the road is occupied by market vendors who have used the road to display their goods. The buying public blocks the remainder of the road. The honking swells, while the cars and two-stroke riksjas deposit their exhaust fumes on the goods.
We take a final turn - we have arrived. Exchanging money by means of guaranteed cheques takes an hour. It is unclear why, I decide to have a beer in the hotel next to the bank, awaiting the completion of the transaction. The riksja is waiting for me - labour is cheap in this country.
Why I didn't like India
The first few days in India were the toughest. The culture shock is big, even after six weeks in Pakistan. The Indians accept way too much, and don't try to alter things. "Things are how they are", that's what I hear a bit too often and a bit too quickly. I approach this country with too much involvement: I sincerely believe a developing country could try and do things right the first time. It could learn from the mistakes of others. Furthermore, I believe bad leadership can be thrown over by people suffering under its regime.
I'm wrong about this. The Indians accept the way things are, and let themselves be pushed around by a small group of people in control. Many things are done halfheartedly because it is the easy way: cars will have no carburators in the year 2000, but unleaded gas is still to come then; they produce warm water using fossile fuel instead of the omnipresent sunshine. This community seems to be determined to duplicate all the mistakes the western world has already made. Borders are kept closed for the majority of technology, and this is keeping the country from getting itself a competition position. If they would be more open, Indian engineers could create improvements instead of havin to use outdated technology.
Because this country is so underdeveloped, the great minds of India go abroad: many of the Indian computer experts work in the US, not in India. Of the educated people I meet, there isn't a single one without a next of kin abroad. The 'human capital' is fleeing this country, while it is needed here the most.
And the government still tries its hardest to stay in the way of progress. Trucks are all small according to western standards - I think one modern truck can replace two Indian ones. But modern equipment is taxed with enormous amounts of import rights - an economic barrier. Internet access is controlled by the monopolist VSNL - a government company working very ineffective and bureaucratic. Neighboring countries Pakistan and Nepal have Internet everywhere - India lags behind, although it has a florishing software industry.
The caste system is the most despicable of all. About half of the population is in the lowest caste, and they will never share in any economic growth whatsoever. Everything will go into the hands of the educated higher castes, who make sure the lower castes don't get educated to reach their level. And so India stays divided in two parts: the upper layer seeming to live in a western land in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, versus the rest which will forever be a third world country. This is pure discrimination, and accfepted throughout the country: I saw a job application form for a position with the railway company. Please fill in your caste....
The population growth is one typical for a third world country, and you cannot even blame the illiterate, uneducated group. The number of people who have no chance of education or jobs keeps increasing. A huge group will miss the boat, and I don't see anyone trying to do something about it. Everybody is acting like a rat in a cage that's too small: you take care for yourself, if necessary at the expense of others. There is no effective birth control program by the government.
India is a beautiful country, but my heart breaks at the sight of the social structure. This country is not honest to a large part of its population.
It has taken about a month, but now I'm beaten senseless. I get driven in a riksja without having to think about the desparate situation of the man who is working up a sweat for me. Or the destiny of the crawling invalid condemned to begging. I was 'just' a bit too European and wasn't used to seeing others not having had the same opportunities as I had. But it is simpler to accept now I've learned to look at the people as small mammals procreating endlessly and causing a plague. When the food runs out, or when a disease breaks out, this plague will get less. Meanwhile I'm one of the rats keeping alive amidst the others because I have an advantage. The rest has bad luck, and that's that.