19 June: Last Day in India

It’s my last day in India.   I fly home tonight after two nights in Delhi.  The day was spent just wandering around until my early evening taxi ride to the airport.

The approaching monsoon season deposited a downpour this morning, which gives the 100-degree temperatures a visibly dense, humid layer. The temperature today soars on the jam-packed streets as a result of the surface heat reflection, the mass of bodies squeezing past one another, and the compounding heat that comes from the steady stream of taxi’s, motorcycles, and Tuk-Tuks.

It’s particularly acute when walking past the street vendors cooking various sweet and savory items in large vats of boiling oil, accompanied by the smoke and incense that thickens the air under their low hanging tarps.  There were times when I found it hard to breath, and had to step into an air-conditioned shop for a reprieve.  I’ve been to the same coffee shop twice now.  They make a decent Cappuccino in a cool and quiet environment that is in stark contrast to what’s just beyond the front window.


Stating the obvious, I’d say.

This area, Karol Bagh, is street upon street of shop after shop selling everything imaginable.   Clothing, the vast majority of which is exceedingly cheap, electronics, home goods… it’s all here.   The selection appears to be as endless as the shopping district itself.

I was somewhat interested in a pair of loosely fitting cotton pants.  I found a pair that I might want, but they were made in China.  Cotton sold in India that’s made in China?  The sales person said the tag was wrong, that they are really made in India.  Oh?  I didn’t even try to pursue the logic of that argument.

When you see the standard of living in India, and think that they find it cheaper to import cotton from China, then it tells you a bit about what the standard of living must be amongst the Chinese factory workers.  The pants were 100 rupees, which is about $1.25, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy them.  $1.25 for a pair of pants?  How is that possible?  How many pennies do the person making them, and selling them, earn on that pair of trousers?  With numbers that small, “making it up on volume” becomes an impossibility.

People selling stuff here will tell you absolutely anything and everything if it means making a sale.  It becomes difficult, tiring, and creates negative thinking to be constantly attuned to the stream of fabrications that get thrown your way.   Staying positive has been a challenge, and something I’ve had to consciously work towards.

Once you move past the seller-buyer role, you discover a genuinely nice, gentle, and friendly people.  The difficulty as a traveling tourist, who doesn’t speak Hindi, because very few people speak more than a limited amount of English, is finding the opportunity to move those roles aside.   One has to be very diligent to take advantage of those occasions whenever they might present themselves.

~ by Robert on June 19, 2011.

2 Responses to “19 June: Last Day in India”

  1. Robert:
    Absolutely the best travelogue ever. It reminds me (in a vague way) of the Mumonkan’s ‘case 35″. See the following:

    Case 35. Seijo’s Soul Separated

    Goso said to his monks, “Seijo’s soul is separated from her being. What was the real Seijo?”

    Mumon’s Comment

    When you realize what the real is, you will see that we pass from one husk to another like travelers stopping for a night’s lodging. But if you do not realize it yet, I earnestly advise you not to rush about wildly. When earth, water, fire and air suddenly separate, you will be like a crab struggling in boiling water with it seven or eight arms and legs.

    Mumon’s verse

    The moon above the clouds is separate from each other. All are blessed, all are blessed;
    Are they one or are they two.

    * * *

    Welcome back. Travels are always worth the “price”.

    – Sky


  2. I would argue that the companies selling the same brand name clothing you’d but in the US (e.g. Department store brands or Banana Republic) pay the subcontractors that produce them the same amount of money or less than you would have paid to the store owner in India. The $25 jeans you purchase back home is mostly the profits, cost of keeping a local shop, and marketing expenses. They pay very little to the workers. Documents found after the fire at the factory in Bangeladesh also confirmed it.


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