Back in town

Mumbai Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 6 › view all entries
Ness was still feeling pretty damn crap so our day left in India was passed simply resting in the warmth. We did exactly nothing, though that had it's pleasures too. Mumbai as previously mentioned wasn't exactly our favourite place on earth, so we weren't terribly disappointed to pass the day without doing much.
This did though give me some pondering time, and having spent a lifetime, well all right, a week, in India, I felt comfortable in passing a few judgements on westerners in India, which developed into something of a rant. So here goes.
What seems pretty clear is that large numbers of, usually young, westerners seem to come to India  believing they're going to have this unique spiritual experience, as if just by being in India they will somehow absorb the teaching's of ancient Indian guru types. The hairstyle of choice is frequently blond, greasy dreadlocks, and the clothes are usually as scruffy as possibly, preferably those "Indian" tops and trousers that you can pick up from any Indian market stall, but which you never seem to see any Indian's actually wearing. This is very similar to your average spiritual tourist getting about Thailand of which there is a similar rant, though obviously in the Thai blog entry.
So there you have this person, who believes apparently that they will osmotically absorb some sort of spiritual epiphany by having an awful haircut and wearing bad clothes and putting up with the hassles of being a white fella in India (ie, being hassled) with a blissful smile on their face wondering around the streets of one of the most god-awful cities on the planet - OK, we've not been to Africa as yet, but I reckon if you were compiling a list of horrible places to live somewhere amongst the Freetown's, Kinshasa's and Kigali's, Mumbai would simply not look out of place.
Where does this weird theory come from that because a certain people have a different spiritual viewpoint on the world, it's not only better but easily absorbable while on holiday, regardless of the length of that holiday? There's no depth in the understanding of the average spiritual journey-ist, no cultural framework within which to assess and understand what you are seeing, just a superficial longing to be something you're not, or to experience the world in a way in which you're simply not able to, which is what results in the silly hair and clothes. As a westerner, you need to experience the world through the culture of your home, and simply deciding one day that it's cool to be Indian does not make you Indian, as much as doing some yoga and reading a couple of books on hindu and buddhist philosophy does not lead to anything more than a basic, surface understanding of a very complex way of life.
Anyway, our final act in India was a long, long drive through horrendous traffic, and those slums again, back to the airport. We met our friendly local leper, who shoved what was left of his hand (one finger, and most of the palm) through the window, and any number of his fellow beggars on the trip, however given the slow pace of traffic getting rid of even our last few rupees to them would be a serious mistake  - we saved them for the taxi driver. There wasn't much, and he didn't look too impressed, but since we ain't going back to Mumbai, too bad. On that note, I'd just like to say again, we are not going back to Mumbai. Anywhere else in India, yes, Mumbai, no. Maybe the airport, while we transit, but that's it.
India, by the way, was never high on our list of places to go (a long way below Chad and Moldova on mine), but having been there our interest has been piqued, and we'd like to go back some day for a bit longer and better look around.
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photo by: vvicy1