I do visit India quite often. This time, I thought I would look with a prism to see the chaos India is going through as it is changing economically, and also socially at an incredibly fast pace - faster than it ever has. You now often see women in spaghetti straps, and low waist jeans in malls in Delhi that would not be that common 5 years ago outside the confines of the university campuses.
In an undisciplined society like India with huge disparities still present and where extreme viewpoints are always existent as a sign of healthy democratic society, the changes have become more colorful and sometimes contentious. Since late 2004 and even before, I have seen massive opening of economically but then there are lots and lots of aspects of India that are still untouched.
I think I have taken some beautiful pictures that I will upload here, flickr, asianwriting club once I get back to United States. My pictures will do a better job than my words have so far. Here, I am still not at home with all the computers around, and my ease with them in India.
Every time I travel on the road between Roorkee and Delhi since 1999, I do see real exponential growth of cars in country where 10-20 years ago cars was an upper class privilege. No doubt, India is now one of the strongest emerging market for car manufacturers but still in Muzaffarnagar (a fairly sized town between Delhi and Roorkee), you have massive potholes as big as moon craters. My gridlock in Muzaffarnagar consisted of Toyotas, bullock-carts, cycles, scooter rickshaws, and man-driven rickshaws around noon in Indian summer. Now in my traffic jam, I do see Toyota jeeps with people from different social classes, more than before.
Near Rampur (again between Delhi and Roorkee), I saw the dhaba alley with dozens of dhabas lined for around half a mile- an eating and resting place for the rustic sojourners (truck drivers in particular) at night with hundred of tube lights giving a vibrant feel to the open-air restaurants. In early 90s, these places were not so much upbeat. In one of the dhabas, I had some pakoras and almost threw up later in the day. I guess my stomach is Amreekan.
Finally, I did experience a taste of monsoons after 1988. Not really, not the real monsoons but pre-monsoons. It was early in the morning last week, when I was at at the outdoor squash courts of IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Roorkee that the massive downpour arrived. There is nothing more exhilarating in India than monsoons or rains in Indian summer. It is heavy and is extremely cathartic. Just before the downpour in India, there is always an overcast sky for hours, with distant thundering and beautiful sounds of koel.
She reminds us that in the ruthless heat of India, there is hope round the corner.