Saturday, February 25, 2012

If It Looks Like Crap and Smells Like Crap....It Must Be Crap!

So a couple of days ago I mentioned having a conversation with one of the nurses while I had my IV drip going. It was during that conversation that something dawned on me. I like these Aha moments and the more I get out and socialize with others the more of them I seem to be having. It's a good thing as I'm going through quite a bit and my mind is often consumed with what's going on with me and I don't always think about other things.

Let me tell you a little about this nurse other than her being friendly and sweet. She's been married 5 years and has one child. Her husband is in Dubai and she's trying to go abroad as well. She failed the English speaking test twice and was denied a study visa in the US. (I thought she spoke quite well and we had very little difficulty communicating so I'm not sure why she failed.) She's now trying for an Australian visa and hopes to leave Amritsar in about a month or two. She was born and raised here in Amritsar.

During our conversation she asked me some of the same things pretty much everyone here asks me. Where are you from, do you like it here, which country is better, etc. I've gotten in the habit of saying that I like India "some days" because most Indians can't seem to handle the fact that I don't find this country the most perfect example of life and heavenly and all that craziness. Not to mention not all of them are as comfortable with English or my accent and long answers seem to be less understood.

So when the nurse asked me did I like the US or India better I misunderstood her at first and said "both." Then she asked me if I had any trouble living here and that's when I realized I had misunderstood the first question and I answered her yes. So she asked me if I was staying and I said not much longer. That's when she told me her story. She also told me she didn't like it here and that she found this city troubling and she didn't like it here.

That's when I had my Aha moment. I suddenly realized just how many people have told me that lately and over the course of my year here. I've had NRI's tell me they hate it here. I've had people who have never left this city tell me they hate it here and how dirty and screwed up this city is. I know two people who can't stand the people here in general (meaning they don't have specific people they hate, they just don't like anyone) and call them "aliens." Those are all Indians, native Amritsari's. I've also had expats and Indians from other states tell me they hate Amritsar and how bad they feel the environment is here. I've lost count of how many Amritsari's tell me they wished they could leave and how many people we know who come to me for visa/legal advice on how they can get out of here. I've even had Indians comment on this blog assuring me that Amritsar is the worst city in Punjab.

So with realizing all of that it dawned on me that if the residents who grew up here can't stand this place then why should I bother to keep trying to find things I like about this city? I've looked for anything here I can find that is good, tolerable or even inspiring and I've not found it yet. Not a single thing in a year. I came into this city optimistic and maintained that for a while but as it faded it's never come back and more and more each day I realize just how backwards things are here. I discover more and more of Amritsars dirty little secrets and it only makes me dislike it more. So it's as if the more I look to find some kind of happiness here, the harder it becomes to live here.

I'm not one of those people who can live in denial and pretend these things don't exist as so many Indians do. I haven't been born and raised this way and thus am not able to dismiss these things as "little" things either. So I guess my point is that I'm done trying to find anything good here. If so many Amritsari's think this place is crap, it must be crap and who am I to argue with the experts?


  1. You can add my husband to the list of NRI's and people from elsewhere in India that think Amritsar sucks. I mentioned this blog to him and as soon as I said Amritsar he started going on and on about how dirty it is there and that he wasn't surprised you were getting sick and having trouble living there.

  2. Hi Kristy, that's why so many people from India & this city travel abroad as they are looking for a better life. It's not until you have left Amritsar that you realise there are countries with clean fresh air, limited corruption, good organisation, good infrastructure within schools & hospitals and plenty to see & do.

    I struggle to find things to do here with a two year old, there are no public swimming pools with water slides to teach kids how to swim, no beaches to spend the day at, clean art & craft markets to browse around, decent play centres that are run correctly and provide baby change rooms and a cafe for the parents, air conditioned and clean public transport, polite & professional medical doctors and electricity that works 24/7 days a week.

    I don't think that people in this city know how bad it actually is, unless they have traveled to devolved countries and seen what is available out there on offer.

    Even my husband that is from this city and has lived abroad for 7 years finds it hard to tolerate the state of this city. We will be heading back to Australia in the next few months and I can honestly say that I will never take my beautiful country for granted ever again.

  3. I so agree with you! I came to Amritsar last May just to visit the Golden temple and I was taken aback by the utter lack of cleanliness in the vicinity of the temple itself, not to mention the city. People come from across the globe to see the golden temple and the least the folks here can do to give a good image of the city is to do some redevelopment around the touristy areas. You are fleeced the moment you land in the nearby markets. If you can keep the Golden temple clean, why is there such complete disregard for the whole city in general? The narrow winded lanes, the pollution, grime and dust in the summer make it so bad to stay in the city. Kudos to you must love your husband so much to be putting up with everything! Good luck and stay strong :)

  4. That's true. They don't know and many of them don't want to know. It's easier to live like they always have than try to change things, even if those changes make things better. I'm going to miss you. :(

  5. It is quite sad. Thankfully though I'm seeing more and more of the government of India stepping in lately. They shut down multiple restaurants and businesses in the last two weeks for health and sanitation violations. Someone is finally taking notice! Regardless of whether or not I'm leaving, I don't want to see anyone live like this. I do love Rohit but this is getting really close to being over my limit lol. If he didn't bribe me with chocolates and pistachio's I may not have been around this long hahaha.