As many of you know, I just returned from a nearly 3-week
had never been. It was instructive to
see a familiar land through the eyes of foreigners. Among the things they noticed…
Children everywhere. For instance they took note of how
there seem to be children everywhere.
The median age in
is way under 30 so it’s not surprising but the number of young people around
was striking when this was pointed out to me.
These people will want education, jobs and to be able to spend their
income in the decades to come spelling opportunity and risk for the country.
Mobile rules. From
the very rich to poor villagers, everyone seems to have a mobile phone. We even saw a beggar with one! There is no doubt that the rise of mobile
adoption has changed lives for the better. For instance, check out the work that SMSONE around micro-local news.
A spiritual land. We’ve all read about how
place for spirituality and religion. It
is, after all, a land that has spawnded 4 major world religions and countless
sects. My friends marvelled at how
prominent a role religion plays from the colorful, roadside shrines to the
figurines on car dashboards adorned with fresh flowers. I’ll never forget the sight of a merchant
praying to Ganesha before opening his store, even as I waited.
The filth. It must be
is a filthy place with trash (and worse) littering the streets. This is not something I needed a foreigner’s
eyes to see and, in fact, has always been one of my biggest frustrations with
my homeland. People think nothing of
tossing trash out the window of their car.
What a shame as it is otherwise such a beautiful land.
Cricket. Many people
know how popular cricket is in the country but, as my friend remarked, he
hadn’t seen a single field or open space where people weren’t playing
cricket. One of the highlights of our
trip was playing with the adolescents of Rohet, a village outside
The kaleidoscope of colors.
I had taken these for granted but it is amazing to see the richness of
color – from billboards and wall posters to the clothing to the trucks. My friend loved the way the trucks were
adorned with markings unlike the eyesores in the West. One amazing sight was walking into a
department store’s sari & bridal section and taking in the colors and
fabrics being strutted out to the potential customers.
There were many other observations I’m glad I got to see
different lens this time around.