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Just back from an eye opening trip to India and Nepal

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Just back from an eye opening trip to India and Nepal

Old Feb 29th, 2008, 06:19 AM
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Just back from an eye opening trip to India and Nepal

I just returned from visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Khatmandu. At the risk of being lambasted for saying the following, I am going to say it anyway. While I thoroughly enjoyed the sightseeing and the 5 star hotels we stayed in, the overwhelming poverty of the masses is very hard to see. The tent cities in Delhi are extensive. The lack of water and sanitation in those tent cities, as well as the public urination in the streets, (not just in those tent cities, but almost everwhere in Delhi) is quite unforgettable. Seeing so many people living in such deplorable conditions is very sad. I do not wish to dissuade people from visiting India, just to let them know to be prepared for the conditions they may see. Now for the positives: the Taj Mahal, the temples in Khajaharo and the evening ritual at the Ganges in Varanasi were highlights of the trip. The Indian people we met were warm and welcoming. We felt safe throughout the trip. We have many fond memories and great pictures of our trip, and now I am going to try to recover from jet lag and plan our next adventure. Thanks to all for your tips on precautions to take to not not get Delhi belly. We followed your advise and we were fine.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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Having made a trip through India, we can understand your positive and negative feelings about your journey.

We came away wondering if all that poverty we saw could have been reduced if India (and others poor nations) had not followed the nuclear weapons path, had an elite that did more for its poor citizens, and had invested more in the education of its citizens.

Trapped in a web of religious mysticism, crowded by millions of ill-fed people, propagandized and ill-served by a bloated government burocracy, India staggers on somehow. We are not optimistic for India or its neighbors.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 08:06 AM
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Welcome to the club of India travelers Shelly. It is a love/hate relationship. Though I will say it is mostly love for me.

USNR your last sentence sums it up so well.
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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welcome home, glad you "liked" the trip...

india is interesting...with it and china on the uprise, we may be looking up to them some day soon...
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Old Feb 29th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Oh, I wouldn't hold my breath -- their growth rates are impressive, but so are their birth rates. Their per-capita growth rates, therefore, is quite small, and far smaller than the growth rates of almost all Western nations.
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 12:16 AM
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USNR,

Your comment:

"We came away wondering if all that poverty we saw could have been reduced if India (and others poor nations) had not followed the nuclear weapons path, had an elite that did more for its poor citizens, and had invested more in the education of its citizens."

Part of me agrees with you .. but, don't you think the same could be said of the US?

How much do YOU spend on war and weapons? How many people do YOU have living in poverty? The statistics are shameful for a first world country. And most of the poor are the recent immigrants (legal or otherwise). And, of course, you need them, to keep your economy ticking over.

I have a huge amount of faith in India. The Hindu rituals that even educated Indians follow may seem strange to us, but it works for them. I think we should salute an "Asian" democracy that is going places. No military coups; no American involvement (thank God).

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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 05:47 AM
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It is all very well to congratulate India on being a working democracy (I have read accounts of considerable corruption, but US politics are probably even more tainted by money) but if I were going to be born poor in India or China I think I'd take China. My chances for upward mobility would be greater. Plus, in India I'd likely be born into the "wrong" caste, and I dislike the caste system at least as much as non-democratic governments (which may prove easier to change).

I do agree that India is a wonderful destination - incomparable, infuriating, fascinating, varied. Beauty surrounded by squalor and suffering, but beauty none-the-less. And yes, "regular" people are kind and friendly.
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 12:28 PM
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I agree with you, Shelley. And what was most amazing to me was that when we got up close to the Taj Mahal, it stunk of urine!! Uneal!!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Fortunately, that was not our experience at the Taj Mahal. But what really made an impression on me was to see the extreme poverty of the masses and within several miles and minutes of that you enter a gated "oasis" of a monument or a palace with impecabley groomed grounds. Obviously, this is where a considerable amount of government money goes. I understand that tourism is important to the Indian economy, after all that is why visitors come with their dollars, euros, ect., but I can't help wondering what the government is doing to help the unfortunates living in the tent cities. Is there any safety net to help them?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 06:24 PM
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we found the taj to be spotless in every way...

public toilets are not offensive unless you look at them...turn away...its a fact of life..
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 07:17 PM
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there's no safety net, which is true for most countries in the world. welfare, or other safety nets are the exceptions.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 01:54 AM
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Ever used a public toilet in India, rhkkmk? Of course not.

You must have a strong bladder or be male. Or maybe your driver carried a portable potty. Or maybe you never ventured beyond the five star zone.

Or maybe you pissed by the roadside. Do tell.

Shelleyk - thank you for a balanced report and good for you for posting it.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 05:56 AM
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all of the above...part camel
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 11:07 AM
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Bob-Come on. Turning away for the moment does not negate what it happening in the streets. I would have had to drive through India with blinders on not to have observed the living conditions of the masses and the behavior of some of the men.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 12:53 PM
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The "behavior of the men" (great euphemism) is even more obvious if you're walking. I generally walked along the edge of the road instead of on the sidewalk to achieve greater distance from the walls aka public toilets.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2008, 08:01 PM
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gpanda told me that "men rule"...i hang on his every word
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 04:47 AM
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Bob-Our guide called it "the Indian way". I did not realize it might also be "the New England way". I guess I will have to be more observant.
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 05:26 AM
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Shelleyk,

Many thanks for your report. My husband and I also returned from India two weeks ago, visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Kerala.

We returned with the same precise feeling. Whilst the monuments are fantastic, you can’t help but wonder how is it possible there is still such vast poverty in countries around the world. The road to Agra and the city of Agra were the worst in my opinion, the never ending poverty was just so miserable to watch from our car. Agra particularly left me truly depressed, people sleeping on the streets in front of a luxurious Vodafone shop or a super modern shopping mall! I’ve never witnessed such big contrasts. We felt so bad and helpless that nothing we could do would help. We were trying to find out through our driver if there are any charities and we could donate some money at least for the children, but he didn’t understand or knew of any…

I am surprised that all the trip reports on Fodors and Tripadvisor never mention the poverty and the conditions most of the people in India live in; are people so oblivious to what is going on outside of their hotels, does it not move anybody? Indian people are lovely, the food is great, we felt very safe, Taj Mahal and other sights are truly beautiful, but how can one enjoy such beauty when once you go out most of the people are really suffering…
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Kacenka - I think the best way to make a difference would be to help with education - especially of girls. You might want to look into www.prathamorg (or www.prathamusa.org) - I picked up a brochure for them at the local Diwali celebration.
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Old Mar 4th, 2008, 06:07 AM
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Thursdaysd,

Many thanks for the tip! I'll look into it ASAP.

Katerina
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