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.