India-what stayed the same

In a blog titled Leaving Dharamsala, I wrote about what changed since my list visit 2001.  What I forgot to mention in what changed is that in 2001, the population of India was at 1 billion and now it is at 1.2 billion!  Soon it will surpass the population of China.  And I ran out of time to write about what stayed the same.  Here I go:

  • Indians are still and always will be the most friendly and spiritual people on earth.  I love the people of India.
  • Women still wear beautiful bright saris and salwar kameez.  Can you imagine a Western style staying “in” for thousands of years?
  • Women, for the most part, maintain their traditional dress while most  men dress Western style in trousers and shirts.
  • Auto rickshaws and bicycle rickshaws and cows rule the roads
  • Men/boys hold hands with other men …and ladies/girls hold hands with each other. However men and women never hold hands or show affection in public.  “What would happen?”, I asked Arvind.  “They would be mocked.”
  • There is still chaos on the roads.
  • The gods are still venerated as they have been for thousands of years.

Notes from our bus lecture by Arvind:

90% of all marriages are arranged in India.

99% of marriage is within the same caste

When talking about marriage in India, I asked Arvind if some people decide NOT to get married.  “Yes, a few do this.”  “How many?”

Arvind answers, “How many?  The numbers?  You know, we are 1.2 billion people, so when we speak in numbers, anything I say will sound like many.  That is why we speak in percentages.”

CASTE:  when talking about cast, society is thought of as a human body:

Priest Caste     THE HEAD        SPIRTUALITY

Warrior Caste  HEART             PROTECTION, ART

Merchant Caste BELLY           BUSINESS

Servant Class     FEET             FARMERS, SERVICE

and the Untouchable Caste traditionally handles the death rites.

What I saw or heard:

  • Man in t-shirt:  Rich Man  Good Man
  • Family of five balanced gracefully on a motorbike.
  • Old people with leprosy in Dharamsala
  • Announcement concerning the one hour delayed train: “May I have your attention, please? The train  has been delayed.  The inconvenience is deeply regretted.”
  • Man in t-shirt:  My friends laugh at me because I am different.  I laugh at them because they are all the same.


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