Its been over a week since I touched indian soil and I am starting to form my idea about this colourful country.
So many things I already have to share with you but cannot give it all away just yet, so I will be “story telling” you some episodes I have been through and what my experience has been so far.
I think that more than the cultural shock in India (that so far hasn’t been that shocking) it is the fact that this really is a country of contrasts.
Is almost like there’s no grey at all. It is black or white in here. It is 80 or 8 …almost like there’s nothing else in between. And yes, I am mainly talking about richness vs poverty.
Lets have a look at Mumbai:
So, did you know that the most expensive house in the world (valued 2 billion dollars) is right in the centre of Mumbai???? Antilia
And did you know that the biggest slum in Asia, is right on the skirts of Mumbai???? Dharavi
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is what I am talking about.
The poverty in this country is unbelievable. You see beggars, homeless and people in seriously shocking conditions everywhere. But you also see the most expensive cars, and seriously expensive everything here.
A great example of this contrast is the fact that India has (according with Forbes) roughly 55 billionaires, however, World Bank reported that 32.7% of the total Indian people fall bellow the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day while 68.7% live with less than US$2 per day! No surprise that India is estimated to have a third of the world’s poor!
Now forget the Queen and the British Empire, forget Mahatma Gandhi and Madre Teresa of Kolkata, forget the spices, India is in fact ruled by the Bollywood Industry (and for those that don’t know, it really can be compared to Hollywood as almost as bigger and as lucrative as the western version). It is quite impressive how the entire country it is obsessed by their own movie industry. You might not have money for food, but you will have a TV and a satellite on your “slum”.
My tour group and I decided there are a few things we must do while in here and one of them was definitely checking Bollywood ourselves, so last week we actually went to the cinema.
Now check my review about the “going to the movies” process:
At first sight, everything looked pretty common, like when we go to the cinema in UK, USA, Portugal or anywhere in the west, however
- Tickets are refreshingly cheap – I have paid roughly £1.3 which is less that $2 and about €1.5 – In London I was paying around 12 times more.
- After purchasing the tickets, we had to pass through a metal detectors in order to get inside the cinema – because I had a camera (and so everyone else in the tour – helllloooooo, we are tourists) we were almost considered criminals, which was kinda “funny”, but then it was explained to me by one of my group colleagues (which has indian routes and is a specialist in the Bollywood industry) that the piracy in India is extremely bad, so absolutely no cameras are allowed in any cinema room. The staff storage them somewhere – I was more scared if I was going to get it back really.
- The cinema room is not clean at all. When we arrived to the cinema room the lights were already off, but I almost had a feeling I was walking on mud and sand. And then I could see that the floor really was disgusting. Also, the supposed VIP chairs that look like big cushions just on the back of the room, were completely destroyed and there was foam coming out. Glad I didn’t get VIP seats hey?!
- Forget any Hollywood trailer or publicity to any western brand, there’s no such thing. You will have trailers and advertisement – yes, but all for Indian products and movies.
- Then, for my HUGE surprise, just before the movie started, the Indian National Anthem started playing while the indian flag appeared on the massive screen, and every single person stand up and start singing it with their left hand on their hearts. I was shocked as it’s almost felt like the equivalent of watching the final of the Euro-cup when Portugal played home against Greece back in 2004 (and lost). And no, it was not a special day or event, apparently this happens every single day, in any movie and theater. Indians truly are patriots and there’s so much I can tell you already but this is a story for another post.
And now my review about the movie:
The movie was called “Boss” and I would say that the main actor is apparently a sort of Tom Hanks/Bruce Willis/Nicolas Cage mix indian version.
- First finding out that it was a 3h movie (yep, that’s the normal time around here),
- Forget subtitles – if you don’t speak Hindi, then well, you will wish to, as it will be a long movie session for you,
- The movie was a mix of Hollywood but very twisted… yes, there’s the hot girls walking around almost naked (obviously they are western as the indians ladies will always appear covered and behaving themselves); the love story between the hottest couple in the movie; the lavishness as you will see the best cars and most luxury houses, the family drama, the action with a lot of fighting, however, there’s a few things that shows you this could never be a western movie – the fighting looks more like a Son Goku movie cartoon… , funnily enough the main star might kill over 50 people but never gets hurt and his impressive hair seems like coming out of an advert for some shampoo at all times, a lot of fight but not even a drop of the blood you will ever see,
- About the movie story itself, I actually enjoyed. Haven’t watched soap operas in many many years so don’t know if such story has already been used, but it had a great twist at the end and it was a movie where you could laugh, cry, close your eyes in fear, hate some characters, love others, and you could even get proper upset at some of the storyline (oh, and I actually did all that, and no, I do not speak Hindu but I guess they like to make their movies visual) 😉
I did love the experience and after watching such a luxury world, with the prettiest clothes, expensive cars, and incredible palaces where they were living, it didn’t feel I was in the same India I was spending the last days.. Specially after arriving to my hotel, and after almost fainting in bed with exhausting, I felt there was something wrong… I was feeling itchy, very itchy. And well, yeah, was “JUST” bedbugs……. Here I was, lost still in the middle of movie characters in their posh world dreaming of a fancy India, laying on a bed with bugs and sleeping with a jumper and long leggings as wanted to cover my body as much as possible. Too bad it was almost 40 degrees in my room 🙂
I guess India really is a world of contrasts!
p.s I am not putting with bedbugs again. It is NOT fun 🙂