I’ve been living in India for over 5 months in total now. I had some criticism from some friends that I should be less negative about India, and that I needed to get out and actually see the country. That was something I found really frustrating. Why wasn’t my experience of India valid? I had spent months living and working there, dealing with the culture (especially the more frustrating parts of it) on a daily basis, and I’d seen more of “real life” – the life normal people have day in, day out – than most people traveling through India on a tourist visa will probably ever see. How many Indians will actually go and see the Taj Mahal or learn Yoga from a guru on a beach in Goa? Most won’t. Most will go to work on a regular basis, eat food and watch TV in the evening. “Real life” is unremarkable. So I lived in a camp, with a pool and a maid, locked away from the world in a compound – how is that experience not as valid as someone slumming it in a backpacker hostel in Goa or Delhi or Agra? The fact is that that is the life an increasing number of Indians are living. Everywhere there are these advertisements to aspire to this school, or that housing compound, or the latest model of refrigerator.
The main reason I didn’t leave my camp was because I was working so much, I was always tired and believe it or not there was largely nothing of interest outside of the gates. However, there was one morning I did have free, and I took the chance to walk down to the nearby village, mainly populated by poor, working class people, at least in the streets I was walking in (naturally the wealthier people live in the walled compounds which unsurprisingly I can’t just waltz into). I used the opportunity to take some photos and so here they are. I haven’t said much about each of them, other than the titles, so you can make your own mind up about them. It would be really interesting to hear your thoughts on what I found.