Long-time readers of this blog will recall that India was not absolutely my most favorite place ever. Some have suggested I was perhaps a tad harsh in my descriptions of India, and my colleagues here were less than thrilled with what I wrote.
So this time around I determined to have a better experience, to find the beauty in this ancient land, and to write glowing blogs about my experience.
We’re not off to a terrific start.
While waiting to board our flight to Mumbai Soo and I noticed a foul stench creeping over the entire area. It was something akin to what you’d get if you took a corpse rotting in the sun for six days and rolled it in bleu cheese. It was suffocating.
The smell was emanating from a passenger who apparently believed that silly vanities like showers and deodorant were highly overrated.
To Delta’s credit (and to nearly everyone’s relief) they refused to let him fly in such a stinky state. One flight attendant, through a thoroughly uncomfortable bi-lingual passenger, explained to the man that something must be done about his odor before take-off. He could have cared less, but dutifully applied the deodorant handed to him. When that failed to mask his stench he was given a new shirt (Delta didn’t even charge him for it,) but that, too, failed to cover the smell. The flight attendant finally gave up and made the man exit the flight.
I know this was a trememdous inconvenience for the passenger, but I applaud Delta for having and sticking to cleanliness standards. I’ve been on more than a few flights next to an unwashed sloth, and it was miserable.
Once seated and unreservedly pleased to be breathing non-toxic air, I decided to amuse myself by reading a local newspaper, The Times of India.
Apparently displeased with my buoyant mood, the Times immediately set about ruining it.
The front page story that immediately caught my attention announced that Delhi, India’s capital and our first stop, had “regained its crown as India’s most polluted city.”
Last year, when Delhi was merely India’s 2nd most polluted city, my white dress-shirts were covered in a dreary, grey sheen by the end of a work day. I couldn’t wait to see what color they became now that Delhi was #1 again!
The 2nd story basically told me I was going to die.
It seems there’s a new “superbug” loose in Delhi’s water system. It was described as being immune to almost all known anti-biotics, and is infecting the city’s public water used for drinking, washing and cooking.
Let’s see… I can’t eat, can’t drink, can’t do laundry and shouldn’t breathe the air. Jeez I’m glad to be back in India.
Much of the rest of the paper was given over, rightly, to crowing about India’s economic growth.
India didn’t miss a beat in the global financial crises, and some economists project that India, currently the world’s 11th largest economy by total GDP, will by 2050 have grown into the world’s 2nd largest, trailing only China, and knocking the US down to 3rd.
That’s all well and good, but if you’re going to be an economic superpower I believe there are some ground rules on which we should all agree. In closing tonight I offer up a few suggestions.
#1 — the majority of your country’s citizens should refrain from urinating in public except in dire emergencies.
#2 — Street lanes. Learn how and why they’re important, and paint them on your roads.
#3 — Trains. The arrival of yours does not always have to induce violence. It’s not like musical chairs. In most cases, if you have a ticket, seats will still be available even if you don’t join in a mad tussle with other passengers to board first.
#4 – Hunger strikes – they should not be standard negotiating tactics for your politicians.
#5 – Cows – instead of letting them roam around freely, eat them. They’re yummy.