In a week, I will be on the familiar shores of Motherland. Perhaps that's where all the familiarity ends, for I will be staying with my parents who have just moved to a coastal town in India's most fanatically right wing state from a confused, electric power deficient, "quasi-industrialised" state. I will refer to my trip as "home-going" rather than home-coming. For I am going to an unfamiliar place (home) from a familiar place (apartment in College Station). Ironic. Further details regarding the location of home are with-held - in case some fanatic nut tries to beat up yours truly in the airport.
To say that Motherland has been missed would not be an exaggeration. Of course, when one thinks of home one cannot but help think of the stray dogs, the stray cows, the filthy roads, the honking horns, the unhygienic roadside food, the omniscient Auto-Rickshaws, the corrupt policemen, the utter lack of infrastructure, the slums beside the railway track to name a few. But there is something strangely peaceful and therapeutic about the chaotic streets brimming with life. There is never a lonely moment in India.
The frequent reader will testify to the fact that I have devoted almost all my posts to India in the two years that I have been beyond its borders. Going to India after two years (in both of which the 8% growth rate has been breached) - one does expect a few significant changes. I will tabulate some significant changes expected in this blog.
What I expect to see in Urban India is a much larger upper middle class - a more significantly prosperous section of society. I see more shopping malls, more multi-plexes to cater to this huge new market. I see lots of Walmart Clones.
And yet, I see lots of poor destitutes. I see lots of abused children, I see barking dogs everywhere. There's so many poor people in India that lifting some out of poverty is like emptying an ocean with a small tumbler. I don't see their number reduce in the near future, 8% growth or not.
I expect to see child laborers working for rich people, I expect to see vast stretches of lovely highways flanked by the occasional slum. I expect to see that familiar disdain for traffic rules on city streets, I expect to see a civic infrastructure absolutely incapable of handling the generous monsoon rainfall.
And before all that I expect a grumpy immigration clerk be rude to one and all. The first rude person I would have encountered in two years. I expect to see an Airport with too many people. I expect to see traffic that cannot even move.
The point is, if one expects the worst, then one can only be pleasantly surprised.
And I would also like to announce to the casual reader of this blog - that the motive of this visit is not mere tourism. There is a more significant reason for this trip, the reason being that the author is getting hitched, taking the plunge, tying the knot - basically indulging in matrimony. The little woman is halfway to India as I write this blog. Probably asleep flying over the Atlantic ocean somewhere.