Some Glimpses of India .:. Класс языковой подготовки Англикана .:. город Орел


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Some Glimpses of India
Статьи и Обзоры
25.01.2011 17:14

India …

It is an incredibly fascinating country, offering its visitors a dizzying discovery tantalizing in its originality and extraordinariness. It impresses, it hits hard with images that look divine but are rooted firmly in reality. It is a country of startling contrasts, of grinding poverty and sheer luxury, of effusive courtesy and shocking roughness, of enduring spiritual values and need-driven life-styles. Everything is mingled here so that you spend every waking hour doting on these sharp contrasts, marveling at the beauties of architecture, wandering about in a daze looking for a way out of a labyrinth of bustling streets, trying to ingrain in your memory every small detail reflective of the national colour.

We visited the three landmarks of Northern India, the so-called “Golden Triangle” – Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. In all these places there were trivial things which still overwhelmed us because some minutiae of life are radically different from what we are used to in our country. First comes traffic. Because of the overpopulation (in Delhi there are 17 million people) the traffic is really heavy. There are rules of the road, of course, but virtually nobody observes them. Cars jig direction randomly and erratically. Every move is accompanied by high-pitched beeps which eventually blend into a never-ending shrill siren. Highways are full of modern cars (Lamborghinis and the latest makes of the Mercedes) which come along with trishaws, motor-rickshaws and elephants – this diversity is hardly liable to any regulations. Elephants friendly place their trunks into car windows and let you stroke them gently. Homeless children perform their stunts jumping at the cars begging for money. When you walk in the streets, even in some historic places, do not be surprised at seeing cows walking close to the ancient monuments and temples (small wonder, they are sacred animals, after all) or monkeys jumping along. For those who like it hot, there are snakes – true cobras are everywhere. If you are brave enough, you can take a picture with a cobra. It does not cost a bomb, it costs you nerves.


New Delhi is a very green city. It is surprising that green islands are everywhere in such a congested city. Gardens are laid out in all the districts of the city, water pools surround temples to make it easier for church members to sustain the divine service and profound meditation during summer months.

Jaipur is different from Delhi in many ways. It is like a beehive in the center of which Amber is located with its strikingly beautiful Amber Fort. So, there is such a peaceful and tranquil spot all surrounded by light mist, all dazzling in the sun, which rises in the middle of the hectic city as if reminding visitors that harmony, compliance, humility and yet harmony again are eternal values. We drove to the Fort on the elephant’s back – an indelible experience! Sitting on the back of this huge animal you feel as if you had conquered the world! You feel brave, you feel delighted and you feel you are just a grain of sand in the abyss of the universe. Contrasts again, even in the way you feel - mighty and useless, united and all alone.

Agra is torn by contrasts, probably, more than any other place we visited. It was the capital of the Mogul empire until 1658. Now its specificity lies in its Mogul architecture, a wonderful sample of which is Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal is not only the most beautiful love ballad in the history of humanity, it is not only the pearl of architecture heralded with the story of epic love, it is also miraculous because it makes you hold on to the perfection of the moment. It is impossible to shake off that strange fascination, and standing there in front of this wonder of the world you remain struck by a deep sense of admiration. In me it opened up some inner strength, something that enabled me to leave behind everything I wanted to leave behind. Everything is parallel, everything is so pristine, everything is so beautiful there! The lights are playing around the walls all inlaid with precious stones. The marble is transparent and it gives the construction an airy look. Cornelian stones shine with a glistening and tremulous light. Massive columns give it the impression of safety and unattainability. Contrasts seem to be interwoven in every detail of the monument as well as in every facet of their life: life and death, love and loss, happiness and despair, exuberant and resilient strength of both body and mind and utter exhaustion – this is what Taj Mahal makes you feel. It is all there, in white marble, and you are just one of many millions of people who have experienced it and who share the same incredible feelings.


The countryside of India is something that deserves a special comment. Villagers are very hard-working. The villages unite on the basis of the type of manufacturing and the type of crops they grow: working with stones (red sandstone and marble), working with wood (wood engraving), making bricks by hand and firing them, growing mustard, cabbage or reed. In the countryside you will not see the hustle-bustle of a city, but you’ll see the unity of people, their conformity and devotion to labour. There will be no beggars, there will be plodders.


India can boast of its cultural heritage. Some of the customs and traditions are really stunning and baffle all description. Let’s take rites. Hindus cremate the deceased and scatter the ashes in the Ganges. But their religion prohibits cremation of little children. And they simply throw their bodies into the Ganges. Now can you imagine what an excursion along the Ganges is? Yes, pretty scary. A hair-raising story, in fact!

Marriage is one more rite which is nationally specific. Yes, they do marry by caste because it is a caste-divided society. And they do marry by the governance and strict supervision of their parents. The most surprising thing is that it is not so much the caste that counts now, but the compatibility of personal horoscopes! Giving birth to a child, a sacred procedure as it is, is fraught with a disastrous consequence if the baby is a girl. This is where India comes forth as a wild country with barbaric traditions. For parents having a girl means that one day they will have to marry her off, which requires dotal property (household appliances, cars, money to support the new family, clothes, jewelry) the amount of which depends on who the daughter is going to marry. Because of an increased number of abortions as well as homicides (baby-girls used to be killed to save the family from bankruptcy) now doctors performing the ultrasound scanning are legally prohibited to tell to-be-mothers the gender of their baby.

Celebrations, especially those connected with gathering crops, are very popular in India. This is where you can see fakir-shows, fireworks and parades. That’s a riot of colour, talent and beauty. And this is where you can feel the ethnic flavour to its full.


In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that despite all the downsides and horrors which are unsightly, strange as it is, India is a country of overpowering beauty. It is totally awesome in its contrasts. And I would never trade the experience of that travel for the riches of Tutankhamen!

© Valentina Shashkova, 2011



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