Miloš Hadžić wrote this on February 14, 2012

My short trip to India

The short part is a bit tongue in cheek since to most people 25 days sounds like a long trip but for India, it’s just too short.

Everyone I’ve met that has been to India has had a unique experience. I went with a couple of my close friends, my best friend already there for three months, finishing his internship. We landed in Bangalore and planned to fly back from Delhi.

India is the first place where I’ve experienced the feeling of almost too much freedom. You feel a certain connectedness with nature. Partly because animals freely roam through the streets, even in very urban places like Mumbai, and in part because you see an incredibly diverse and almost untouched, nature. Hampi, which is my favourite place of all I’ve visited, is like that. Like God made a bouldering place for for himself. If you climb, you must visit it.

Me in Hampi.

But India is a land of contrasts as everyone will tell you. You see the extremely poor people and the extremely rich not more than two blocks from each other. Some of the former you can see living in slums and the latter in fort-like mansions. In spite of that, it seemed to me that the (not so rich) people in India are really happy. We had a running joke if were going to stumble upon anyone who’ll treat us badly. But now that I think about it, a woman in Jaipur carrying bamboo sticks pulled out the largest knife I’ve seen when I tried to photograph her.

Indians work a lot. Much more so than people in Serbia or elsewhere I’ve been. So many people work Sundays that you just don’t care which day it is anymore. I tried to get my films developed on Sunday, January first, but the guy in the neighbouring shop told me that the photo store is closed on Sundays. Working on January first was the usual deal for him. It’s not that it’s mandated that you should be open, it’s that by being open you get to earn money that day.

A boy running a masala chai stand in Pushkar.

It seemed to me that there’s a kind of entrepreneurial spirit everywhere. Something is happening all the time around you. People are offering you things, fixing things, painting their shopfronts or otherwise making their shop more noticeable in streets packed with small shops. In a Mumbai bookshop you can see a lot of REWORK copies and that ‘The Lean Startup’ is currently one of the best selling titles.

There’s a feeling that there is a free market system in effect on the street level. You go to a rickshaw driver and haggle over the price and sometimes you get to pay less than the meter and sometimes you pay more. I’ve heard that Indians get offended if you don’t haggle, but to me they seemed very happy to see you pay much more than you should. And why wouldn’t you do it when it’s so much fun.

I really miss India.

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