Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Backing Up a Bit

So it seems to bring a bit of drama when I say that Amritsar is dirty. So when this news story came to my reader the other day about Amritsar being dirty I had to read it. I know some of you think that some of the things I say may be exaggerated, etc. I assure you they are simply my feelings and thoughts but now I have politicians, local business owners and a newspaper backing me up. This city simply isn't ready to handle an international crowd at all. 

Quoting from the article: 
  • "The city roads are congested, dirty, traffic is hay-wire and parking spaces are ill-arranged and insufficient. The encroachments, fleecing of tourists by taxi and auto rickshaw drivers, apathetic policemen and recent snatching of valuables from foreign tourists have further worsened the situation. All this points to the mess all around and fails to give any impression that the visitors are welcomed."

I think that about sums up what I've been saying all this last year. I don't hate it here, its just so freaking hard to get used to. The dirt is horrific. I wrap and cover my nose and mouth on every single trip out of the house with a dupatta or shawl and I still come home blowing out black dirt from my nose. I have to scrub my fingers and toes daily with a nail brush and if I leave the house I have to also scrub my arms and parts of my legs where dirt gets through my clothes. Granted I'm extremely pale (like the Irish) so it probably seems worse to me. (Hell, I washed off some sweet potatoes and chopped them and my fingers were died brown for 2 days even after scrubbing!) But these things do bother me immensely. I've always lived an overly clean life so it's not wonder that the dirt here bothers me so bad. 

Traffic is scary but doesn't get to me too much unless someone is running over me (and that has happened twice so far) or if it looks like they are going to run over me (happens most trips). I've taken to wearing my iPod while out to drown out all the *beep* *beep* sounds from everyone honking incessantly so there is no complaint there. 

The fleecing is part of why I only frequent a few establishments here. It's absolutely ridiculous and I've even given a piece of my mind to a few store owners who must have thought I was dumb enough to pay 4-5 times what an item was worth. Of course I didn't buy it and even though I know I have paid more than some people would on a few things, I am pretty sure I've only gotten ripped off really bad once and that was in Delhi (remember the purple sparkly elephant....he still loves me and is sitting on the shelf like a good devotee watching me type right now...hehehehe!).

I have not felt particularly unwelcomed in the city like the last line says however I do notice there is more of a let's get the tourist to shop here type of mentality when I'm out in the bazaars. I have learned where to go to be treated more like a local though. There are some good shops here and I have managed to find a favorite shoe store not at the mall and a few other shops not in our bazaar that I prefer to shop. They all have one thing in common...well two. They don't act like I'm some celebrity because I'm white and they treat me just like I belong here. It's okay to be a celebrity some time but I mostly don't prefer it. I want to go and shop and get what I need and relax. The second thing is that when I ask for purple, they know what purple is (you would be surprised at the astonishing number of times I've said "purple" and they handed me green, pink, or any other color but purple then get pissed that I don't want it. I do know how to ask for that in Punjabi too (a girl has to know the important stuff right?). I also know feroza (turqouise) because that is another fav and gulabi (pink). I got my priorities you 

For any of you that are skeptical about my views of Amritsar, I recommend reading the article. Amritsar needs help and I sincerely hope that articles like this will prompt at least a few citizens to do something about it. It could be an amazing and beautiful place (now that I'm semi-getting used to the dirt I'm starting to see that). People just have to stop treating the land like their personal trash can.

Here's the article: Poor tourism infrastructure in 'holy city' of Amritsar spoils the show

And for some reason blogger has my text in 3 different sizes as I'm typing and I can't seem to fix it so I'm sorry for the random sizes going on lol.


  1. oops I meant merchants, not mercantilists.

  2. amritsar is dirty all india is, people live in abject poverty and slums but they manage. sorry to say this but it seems like its high time you went home, you're not happy here in india, your marriage by what you write here isnt great so maybe its time to cut your losses and go back to where you are most happy, because india certainly isn't that place

  3. I agree 100% that towns are the same like you said in your first paragraph. You're right, I've traveled the US and saw evidence of that. But, I don't agree that Amritsar's problems are the same as the rest of India. I haven't traveled as much as you have here but from what I have seen, Amritsar is almost crippled the extent of some of these issues is so bad. I didn't witness that in other small cities. Even in towns like Rishikesh, Vrindavan and such that I have been to, they were much nicer and better kept and the people were very different. Comparing them to Amritsar would be like comparing Delhi to a farm village in India.

    I am told however, of other cities that have similar cultural issues but I have not had the fortune to visit any of them. I also agree that Amritsar needs to reach out and advance along with other cities it's size and in some ways I think it has. But, to me it seems that most of the residents don't want that and aren't willing to move forward. I could be wrong, these are only my observations. I see though that the government, business and other industry are trying to make Amritsar better but I don't see any evidence of the peoples response. What I do see is their disdain for these advancements. The younger generation obviously seems welcoming to new jobs and new industry while the older generation seems adamant against it.

    You're right there isn't much I can do outwardly. I consider it my challenge to adapt myself to overlook the things I cannot change though. I'm trying, it's just extremely difficult. It does me good to know that you think I'm doing well. Most days I really don't feel that way lol. I try not to think too hard with my emotions and listen to my mind but the two argue and my emotions quite often take over. I think overall this challenge of adapting to life here has been good for me in so many ways. I feel fortunate (despite the struggles) to be here and having these experiences. Now if only I could convince Punjab Power that Amritsar deserves to have the power left on, I will do a lot better lol. Until then....thank God my hot shower is hooked to the water tank and doesn't need them! :D

  4. You're right. Amritsar is not the place for me to live permanently for sure. No marriage starts out great and I've had the misfortune of having more to deal with than I can stand which does affect my marriage. The marriage is far from bad though. Breaking it isn't something I feel like is an option either (this would be the equivalent of getting divorced in America over how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder..which sadly has happened). In all fairness I am trying to work through the issues, some of which I recognize are my own issues and are things only I struggle with. This has been a learning experience and just this morning I was thinking that if I had to describe this life (my expat life) to someone from back home I would describe it as "having all the knowledge of an adult but having to start learning everything over as if I was a newborn child."

    That would not be easy for anyone. I've been through humiliations, extreme sicknesses and more.Had someone from India moved to the US and experienced the same continuous onslaught of horrors that I have they would feel the same way about the US. Actually, I have seen some people write about similar situations when moving there and I sympathize with them. It's not so much the country they can't stand, it's the hardships that were thrust upon them that have become too much.

  5. Hmmm, interesting. I think this could be worthy of a blog post for my India travel site to see what perspectives people have.

  6. Definitely! You know what I found out today...Most of the travel guides on India have little or no information on Amritsar. I would be happy to help you with pictures and such, I have tons of them and I can get you (non-angry...potentially unbiased) information on just about anything around here you need. Just let me know!