clueless abroad #01

originally i wanted to write on things i cannot understand these days, but that turned out too complex for me to describe, too humiliating as well maybe, anyway, the further we travel the more clueless I am. on the other hand I do learn new things every day, like in the flying classroom of kaestners ‘fliegendes klassenzimmer’.

so, in agra, just yesterday, I learned that cows (?) are much more fun, when you pretend they are something else (leopards?  giraffes? )…


just a few days before, i learned that even when the whole city (delhi) seems to succumb to dirt, regular people sleep in the middle of the streets and fight for their sleeping spots with the cities dogs, the metropolitan muslim youths go for little walks through the inner city parading spotlessly clean goats as pets who follow every step they do….

to make us feel more at home, some historical indian, sikh, bolschewiki revolutionaries and nationalists – heroes or terrorists, depending on your individual take are presented on pictures with traditional austrian hats – it might well be that I got everything wrong about this history – go, look yourself on the net and find out about bhagat singh – I have to move on…


one thing I learned, my dear friend fu learned allready approx. 15 years ago in kathmandu…, people in some parts of india (obviously also in nepal) have not participated in the more or less global invention of the the broom stick, they just use the broom without the stick, which results in people having to bend over all the time while sweeping floors etc. connected to this I also learned that indians like to sweep every surface (despite of or maybe as a result of people constantly complaining of the dirt in india)- they sweep mudcovered streches beside the road, without getting rid of the mud and they swipe lawns dusting off the grass or so……


all this sounds very arrogant maybe. but like most things which are coming off as arrogant, this is the result of my non-understanding, there are so many things in india which are not self-explanatory,  which make me stare in wonder. indians have an own sense of order, have an own idea about respectability, family etc. etc. we do try to talk with people, to find out what makes them go, but language and culture do not really make it easy, as well as the constant commercial hassle: since we left the himalayas, a lot of people we meet would be ready to tell everything they think we want to hear, just in order to close a deal with us. two days ago we were standing in front of delhis central mosque and a rickshaw guy who wanted to score a ride with us, shouted ‘the mosque is not here!’  an austrian friend said ‘they are all liars as soon as they want to make business’ – I guess we all are to a certain degree, but as long as we stay at home, it does not seem so blunt to us ourselves.

Doubts: Often I am ready to credit everything to the cultural differences, but then, in moments when I’ve really had it, I usually tell the hawkers who try to sell something, that it is really a bad moment, and that they should stick it, and, to my amazement, they understand immediately and leave me alone – so, at the worst moments everyone seems to magically develop intercultural abilities.

there are so many moments that make me think, I learned! I learned something! but now, writing them down, most of them are forgotten – this could easily be my personal learning tragedy!