My visit to India saw some of the upper and lower class conditions of the country, though mostly the upper class, I will admit. I stayed in a 5-star Marriott hotel, one that was often a location for Bollywood movies being shot in Mumbai, which is India’s movie “capital” as well as its major financial center.
But I also did get to see some street life, including cows on the streets — something I had obviously heard of about India. Most of my travels were during the afternoon and early morning, since I worked a shift that corresponded to daytime back in the United States.
I found the adaption of new and old, East and West, fascinating, and marveled at India, and the vibrancy of its life, and of its representative, secular society.
The use of motorcycles by multiple persons, and the honking, and how efficient it all was, was another fascinating thing.
My one story/recollection about motorcycles is actually from the short segment of a TV show I watched one morning before going to bed. This young woman was talking to a friend about what happened to her, and we got to see the scene she described in her mind played out on the screen. She was driving a car, and saw a family — father, mother, young daughter — riding a motorcycle. the girl was clutching a doll and slowly falling asleep. As the woman telling the story saw the girl slowly slipping, she tried to find a way to maneuver to make the parents realize what was happening, but could never get there.
Then just as the girl was about to fall, and her doll started falling, a young, handsome guy on a motorcycle swooped by and caught the doll and the girl and saved them. The woman’s attention then turned to the guy. She kept trying to catch up with him in traffic, but could never quite get to him.
There aren’t really marked lanes in India, the cars and motorcycles fill the space as practically as possible. So at one point she and the guy finally pulled up, stopped, at the same light, She was at the left end of the row of vehicles, and he was on the right. She caught the attention of the cyclist next to her, and got them to signal each other down the row of vehicles until the one nearest the guy was just ready to tap him and tell him to look at the girl — when the light changed, and he rode off, never realizing what she was trying to do.
That is where I turned off the TV. But that blend of romance, within a society that is still primarily arranged marriages, and the cultural use of motorcycles, seemed so Indian, and yet so modern, to me, a successful example of how well thy blend the influences, and yet make them their own. I expected that somewhere in the show the girl was going to run into the guy again, but I never waited to find out.