In fact, I love Asia as a whole, but as I’m in India right now, I’m reminded of its endearing idiosyncracies. For instance, the way their approach to English punctuation is often the opposite to ours, wheras the English put unwanted apostrophes everywhere, Indians often miss them out altogether. As a good example I drove past “Anus Beauty Parlour “the other day, actually the parlour belongs to Anu, where’s Lynne Truss when you need her?
But its not just my patronising attitudes to cheerful disregard of punctuation which make me like it here, it is a genuinely great place, with lots of amazing people. People who make the best of a difficult situation in many cases.
I am always particularly impressed by Indian drivers, who I regard as some of the best drivers in the world. Yes I know the traffic here is horrendous, with roads shared by motorvehicles, bikes, carts, mad people, animals and pot holes, but that doesnt make the drivers bad drivers! Rather it makes them extraordinarily good drivers. How they manage to drive on these roads is beyond me, the spatial and traffic awareness is incredible – yes they do sometimes get it wrong (always ask for an older/experienced driver) with tragic consequences, but I honestly think that these guys are some of the canniest and cleverest drivers ever.
Much like China, India is often looked down upon as ‘primitive’ by supposed developed nations like the UK, but just as China’s industrial revolution came before ours and should really have eclipsed ours, so India has been developing forms of technology which are much more impressive than ours. The classic example being the lunch deliveries in Mumbai, which are effectively run on a bar-code system and work with amazing efficiency, despite the characteristic appearance of chaos.
There is a degree of cultural snobbery in the west which sees the apparent danger and chaos in a place like India, as symbols of backwardness. This will have to change as India and its cold war rival China take centre stage in world politics and economics in the next couple of decades.
there is still a lot of comedy here though, and I’ll leave the last word to the incredulous American lady who sat near me at dinner the other night. In a shrill southern squawk she announced to her colleagues, “yesterday I saw a family of four on a motorcycle, today I saw two men and a pig!”