Author Topic: In the Streets of India( in the voice of a writter)  (Read 1128 times)

Offline David Stone

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Sudder Street looked so much different in the daylight. A few tobacco stores opened for business. On the left side, a couple of rickshaw drivers were lying down, sleeping inside their rickshaws, waiting for passengers. Not far away from them, a cow sat chewing from a pile of garbage. Further down, a couple of men were lying down on bamboo sheets, sleeping. They must have been really poor. A couple of cars crossed each other in the streets, barely missing each other.

I tried to make my way through the busy street, passing a few Indians on the way.

"Rupees, Madame, please?" A woman walked toward me, begging for money.

She carried a baby in her hands. A couple of children followed her.

"Rupees, Madame?"

I searched my bag and gave them small change. They continued walking along.

"Rupees, Madame, please?"

"I gave you some, now go away, please." They still followed me.

I entered a small restaurant at the corner of the street. I sat down and ordered tea and toast.

A few Westerners sat down in the restaurant. They looked rested and calm. I wished I felt that way. I lacked sleep and felt rather anxious.

A blond girl quietly sat at the table in front of me, reading a book. She looked beautiful in her blue Salwar Kameez suit. I thought of buying one too.

The restaurant looked filthy. The waiter brought me breakfast. He cleaned my table. No matter how hard he cleaned it, it was still dirty.

I quickly ate and went back onto Sudder Street. It was hot. I thought of buying a bottle of water.

"No good water, Madame," said a young boy passing by.

I took the bottle of water I bought from the tobacco shop and looked at it.

"What's wrong with it?" I asked.

"This water bad name," he explained.

It was another scam to make a few extra rupees. The bottles have been refilled with tap water. As a traveler, the number one survival rule in Asia was to neither drink the tap water nor eat the uncooked fruits or vegetables washed in it.

I threw away the bottle and bought a different brand. The bottle was sealed properly. It was safe to drink it.

The weather started to get hot. The air was polluted. I had hard time breathing.

I went inside the market and roamed around, searching for clothes to buy. I had the impression the Indian men's eyes followed me everywhere I went, watching me.

"Madame, you need help? I show you nice store." The Indian man started walking along with me.

"I will find the stores myself, thank you," I told him.

"Madame, you want to buy?" said another Indian man as I approached his store.

I bought a red Salwar Kameez suit and put it on. I thought of buying a Bindi, the red dot the Indian women wear between their eyes.

"Madame, need help?" The salesman asked.

"I need a Bindi."

"I give you beautiful Bindi." He took out a bunch of small packets of Bindis of different colors and shapes. He chose one, took it out, and placed it on my forehead.

"Beautiful, Madame." He smiled.

I bought a small pack.

Back in the streets, I noticed I was being stared at less than before. It must have been the Indian attire.

The traffic was chaotic: cars going in all directions, their horns honking. To my amazement the cars didn't collide.

"Why do they use the horns so much?" I asked myself.

A strange vehicle passed in front of me: a two-seat and two-wheel rickshaw dragged by a tiny Indian man. Two women sat behind him.

On the other side of the street, a few Indian men waited by the bus stop. They wore white pajama-like clothes and slippers.

I walked along the sidewalk through the slums of Calcutta. There were blue tents set up all along the sidewalk, and many families found shelter underneath them. I tried to look inside a tent. I could only see colorful, ripped clothes hanged in front of the tent.

A woman washed her skinny naked children. As I got closer to them, they started begging me for money. I gave away some change. As other families saw me, they came closer. I found myself surrounded by tens of people begging for money. I threw some rupees in the air, and as they tried to pick the money up I ran away.

I suddenly got dizzy. I felt exhausted and confused. I scanned the images in front of my eyes, but I had a hard time realizing what was happening. This was not the reality I knew. There was too much chaos and too much poverty all around.