dinsdag 1 oktober 2013

Impressions of Amritsar

Part I

There's no system in these installments yet since I have to rush a bit for my trip to Dharamsala! More soon if there's WiFi there!

Touts in Amritsar are unlike any I've met before in India.
"Sir, sir! I'm from foreign currency collection, you have foreign currency?"
- Yes
"Can I have it?"
- No
*Boy goes away*
Why aren't they all like that all over India! I love Amritsar!

Also, buying stuff here is more pleasant than what I remember from Jaipur, Agra, Delhi or Varanasi. Sellers here don't interpret one look as a 'You want this Sir?!', some even seem a bit reluctant to get out of that comfy chair and accept your money. Major improvement!

Overall, the lack of tourists has surprised me. Amritsar may not be as know as the cities named above, but I didn't expect to be able to roam the narrow streets of the city for hours and not come across a single long haired, backpack wearing, wearing-Indian-clothes-ridiculous-looking Westerner in search of his or her spiritual enlightenment. Another plus for Amritsar. Fun fact: the only place I went where I met the aforementioned kind of people within five minutes of arrival was in a restaurant I picked from the Lonely Planet.

Downside, the less tourists around the less people seem to speak English. Riksha - the cycle type are more common than the auto type - drivers have trouble even understanding the English numbers, which makes bargaining difficult if not impossible without an interpreter. Luckily, random people are very happy to help, though success is not always guaranteed. I better pick up some Hindi phrases (though not very useful here, people speak Punjabi, which the ever ignorant me thought was more of an accent. It's not.)

Cows may be holy in India, other animals definitely aren't. Streetdogs with broken legs or half their skulls torn open are not uncommon due to the hazardous traffic. I understand it's not a top priority in a country that has so many people living in poverty, but you somehow can't help but wish they would've had a better life.

Talking about traffic, I've realized there's a major misunderstanding among most Western people about the possible dangers they may face in India. Touts may 'rob' you of your money, bacteria may make you sick,  but it's the traffic that can be lethal.

The only thing more annoying than vehicles that honk constantly, are those that that don't honk at all. You get so used to the honking that you don't expect them.

As in other Indian cities shops are everywhere. There are all kinds of shops, though most of the shops who sell exactly the same wares tend to cuddle up in one (part of the) street. It surprises me every single time and I'm getting a headache trying to figure out the logic. May I should just - in the words of this English band that also has a connection to India - let it be...

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