A trip to India

A trip to India - Paolo Carnevali

A story by Paolo Carnevali

I have been in India for two months where I began a pilgrimage through a journey in the south, interested in observing and living experiences related to Christian Indian, in the continuos Muslim growth. According to an ancient tradition, the apostle Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia, then went as far as western India and precisely in Kerala.

I observe society and the people with their customs. A very rich country that will challenge the world, with crazy contrasts. Stray dogs, cows and monkeys block traffic already paralyzed by chaotic driving, with constant honking and dangerous overtaking to get back into the lane, grazing impacts with the opposite driver. Shops or rather, tin and iron shacks for various activities such as tropical fruit kiosks, sugar cane juices, coconut and fried bananas. Meat and live animals locked up in coops, often chickens, near scooter repairs and lots of dirt on the roadsides. The hygienic conditions are often critical and the foad markets with the stalls in the middle of the transit roads are splashed by the passage of cars, especially the fruit. This is why attention is required! However, this danger is more evident in inhabited centres.

The open and coloured buses with processional public transport decorations and the small yellow taxis obtained from the Piaggio “Bees” are particular. In taking nice photos, I observe the contrasts around me: like the electricity wires that intertwine between one pole and another and the cows that feed on the scraps of the markets. The same cows blocking traffic…

I stopped to drink tea: I filmed the preparation of the drink being transferred from one container to another as if it were a rubber thread, with great skill, before being poured into the glasses. The table with chairs where I was sitting was surrounded by gas cylinders, fruit and glass bottles to be recycled. My gaze lingered on the lottery ticket dealers, the winnings are 250,000 rupees… a fortune! A three-room apartment in the most expensive area of a city like Bangalore with a view of the Lalgagh botanical garden is around 40/50 thousand rupees.

I smile and as these thoughts pass me by, in front of me an unfortunate man has bent down to relieve himself. You often see people washing in rivers, real landfills…

After all, the thought is that people don’t seem to realize that their opinions of the world are also a confession of their being. This was what the American writer said, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The sacred hospitality in making one feel the search for acceptance, with big smiles. Young people with their foreign experiences will surely change India over time. Already the skyline of the huge skyscrapers stands out on the horizon, offering a futuristic landscape. Sometimes we wonder if we are on the right planet, the misery that contrasts with the futuristic. Grandiose plans for the new Indian metropolises. I had already realized this at the Kochi airport: an ultra-modern building aimed at green technology. The use of horns seems to be a constant background, the road lanes are separated by a concrete curb and if a pedestrian wants to cross he has to be a tightrope walker to dodge the cars because sidewalks don’t exist, at least that we are not in residential neighbordhoods and front of big hotel. On the sides of the roads, the red earth (the same one I saw in Africa) is often filled with cleanliness which is burned during the night. A population reputed to be at the forefront of information technology and medicine skills.

Despite the hygiene precautions my wester antibodies were tested. Drik water at ambient temperature, often warm with lemon, and eat food from trusted people. Seeing certain markets, I thought it would help me lose weight instead of delicious and special even if spicy. Clearly, there are many types of cuisines and there are many choices, especially in upscale restaurants.

There are many “worlds”, I don’t know which ones I live in, but I have often imagined a peaceful world as a backdrop to my old age. There is a weariness in my soul and my heart and I get sad when I fall into nostalgia. The most painful feelings and the most pungent emotions are the absurd ones, the anxiety of impossible things, nostalgia, and dissatisfaction. It seems to live the restlessness of F. Pessoa.

Strong contrasts due to rapid development: peasants arrive in the cities from the countryside in almost unmanageable quantities. Drinking water reaches homes only four to five hours a day and must be rationed and conserved. Cars circulate to make the traffic unbearable between the works for the new subways and roads for rapid connections are slow to be realized due to a slow and corruptible bureaucracy. The few electric buses are funny and today the pollution is out of control. The social differences between rich and poor, between those who live the future and the opposite is also evident. As if the same people living in completely different eras.

President Modi has made a cyclopean digital plan to computerize the country. It will extend broadband and connect isolated farming villages by telephone. This is also for public and private services. The world will increasingly assume a single identity and increasingly distinguishable social differences. All the ethnic groups that converge here with their dialects and languages have made the use of English compulsory even among Indians who could not understand each other otherwise.

Paolo Carnevali
was born in Bibbiena (Arezzo) in 1957. Translator and poet. “I Dialoghi di Ebe e Lio”(1984) from whose text a theatrical piéce was taken. In the same year, he wrote “Poetica Città” a poetry-zine underground distributed on reading evenings. “Trasparenze (1987) poetic plaquette. Reviewed in the Manifesto(1988) and the Corriere Adriatico (1990). Published in poetry magazines and blogs. Collaborates with the literary magazine “Pioggia Obliqua Scritture d’Arte” of Florence as a correspondent from London U.K. Editor of the literary magazine “L’Area di Broca”.