“You’re in India” we’re told everyday. “And everything is possible in India!”
Hearing this on every train, in every shop and at every guesthouse used to make us smile. It’s such a positive sentiment. Unfortunately, every time we ask a question here we get a contradicting sentence…
“Can we book a train from Delhi to Jaisalmer?”
“Can we connect to the free wifi you advertise?”
“Can I have this cup of tea for the same price as everyone else in this restuarant rather than the extortionate 300 rupees (£6) you’re trying to charge me?”
There’s no real comeback to this reply. So with no train, no wifi and expensive tea we’ve soldiered on.
And this is our last stop in India. We’re in Chennai, a place known for its airport, train station and bus stops. It’s a transport hub with little else. The Lonley Planet, a book which describes the murderous traffic in india’s big cities as ‘dancing to music only it can hear’ finds very little to say about Chennai. And that’s saying something.
Determined to do something in Chennai we ventured out to the beach. We stayed on the beach for about 10 minutes. Chennai beach could have been a beautiful place but unfortunately it’s covered in litter. It’s more than unfortunate, it’s upsetting. In fact, it’s more than upsetting, it’s infuriating. During our last day in India, as I watched the rich pollute their own beach despite signs explaining why not to, I began to lose hope for this country.
We’ve found India to be a country where some of the biggest societal problems are blamed on a lack of education, but it’s the rich and educated that often seem to be the cause. I’m talking about sexism, poverty and hygeine. Too often it seems like it’s more about arrogance than ignorance.
I know how the last few blog posts have sounded, so I want to point out that I don’t hate India. Gemma and I have had some great times here; we’ve slept in the desert under the stars in Jaisalmer, we’ve celebrated religious festivals by throwing paint around in Agra and we’ve learnt first hand about Sikhism in Chandigarh but we’re leaving the country feeling downtrodden and baffled.
We’ve come to the airport 6 hours early tonight. Airports normally have restaurants and air conditioning – one better than the rest of Chennai. We tried to get into the airport doors (always guarded to make sure the poor can’t get in) and were told we were too early.
“Can we just wait inside please?” We asked, although we already knew the answer.
So now we’re sat in a small cafeteria and it’s just dawning on us that soon things will be possible… Because we’re about to leave the country where everything’s possible.