The Lonely Planet writes about India:
“Bamboozing. There’s simply no other word that captions the enigma that is India. With an ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once, India presents an extraordinary spectrum of encounters for the traveller. Some of these can be challenging, particularly for the first-time visitor: the poverty is confronting, Indian bureaucracy can be exasperating and the crush of humanity sometimes turns the simplest task into an energy-zapping battle. Even veteran travelers find their sanity frayed at some point.”
Rishikesh 10 am: The Devraj Coffee Corner is already full as it is a popular place for Indians and foreigners. It is located right above the Laxman Jhula bridge and perfect for watching Indian life beside and on the bridge. In theory, Laxman Jula is a pedestrian bridge but in India that means that more or less everything moves on it; ‘real’ pedestrians, monkeys, cows, motorbikes and handcarts with all kinds of goods. If the bridge would be wider or cars smaller they also would regard themselves as pedestrian and cross the river via the bridge.
It is kind of funny: the Indians try really really hard to set up rules and regulations in order to get things perfectly organized. The thing is – nobody really cares, which leads to the chaos which is so typical for India, also because there are just so many people here. Well-intended rules are bent or just ignored.
Western people are mostly used to following rules and for many who came to India for the first timethey feel very lonely very quickly as they seem to be the only ones who care about the rules and quickly become frustrated and annoyed. The most important rule is to stay calm and ‘mentally survive’ in India is to let go of the Western thinking and open up to the chaos. It may help to talk to experienced travellers of India who already know that in the end everything will miraculously work out, despite the chaos.
When you have experienced the chaos many times you just build up a certain trust that makes it easier to let go and ‘go with the flow’. Those who have been to India and coped often speak of a certain ‘freedom’ they feel when they don’t have to follow so many rules anymore or even better, they learned how to bend them the ‘Indian way’. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about I’ve attached a short video of the morning traffic on the bridge. Although not a long bridge it requires patience and time to cross it and usually depends on:
- the number of motorbikes and cows
- how many big groups stop in the middle of the bridge to take photos of themselves unaware that nobody can pass them
- how many people have to fight off the monkeys attacking their snacks or hand bags
- and most important – how many people are willing to stay in their ‘lane’
Sometimes it works out pretty well and sometimes not! Some people are even more ignorant than others and the definitely leads to a knot of chaos which can hardly be untied again. Anyway, a simple example like crossing this bridge can turn into a learning exercise to practice patience and let go of expectations.