Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cultural Influence

Today, we got to see the side of India that most Westerners come for, the tourist side. We got to visit a few temples, and other places of interest that really showed how deep and beautiful the Indian culture truly is.

The first thing site that we saw that really stuck out to me was the (or is it a) Jain Temple. It was absolutely beautiful. The outside was stunning with gardens and numerous fountains and statues of different gods and animals. To enter the temple we had to take our shoes off and, like most religious sites in India, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the temple. As we all walked in, you could literally hear everyone gasp for their breathe. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been inside of. The entire interior was decorated in countless mirrors. In the spaces where there were no mirrors there was mosaic tiling that covered every square inch of the place. Each "tile" had to be individually placed and the patterns were something to marvel at. It really was breathe taking.

Another site we got to see was the Victoria Memorial. It is another beautiful state house looking building set on more than a few acres of an equally as beautiful park. The building itself is massive and the inside is a museum of India's history. Due to the heat, we didn't get to stay as long as I would have liked, but I was able to at least see the whole building. There were so many paintings to look at, blurbs to read, and other interesting artifacts, that one could spend an entire day there and probably not see it all.

While we were at the Memorial, taking pictures outside, something funny began to happen. Indian men, women, and teens, kept asking us to take pictures with them and their family. It was kind of awkward posing with these random people and we were all a little confused as to why everyone wanted to take pictures with us...but then it dawned on us. Many people here idolize the West. One man while talking with someone else in the group, actually said that this particular group member was beautiful because he was white, while he (the Indian) man was ugly because he was black/darker. Is horrible to think that this is how some people view themselves. If there is one thing this trip has taught me, it's that everyone is beautiful no matter what.

As nice as the day sounds there was one part of it that really kicked me in the gut. On our tour, we got taken to a mall in Kolkata, nt far from where we are staying. This mall, is exactly like the countless ones that we have in he US. I have frequented malls like this for the majority of my life, never thinking twice about going in and spending some money. Tis time though, was MUCH different.

As soon as we set foot in the place I was disgusted. Five stories of air conditioned shiny glass store fronts. Fifty different types of jeans and expensive jewelry coupled with a fully functioning food court on the highest floor. My first thoughts, "What the ****...?" Literally right across the street of this mall there were people sleeping on the sidewalk on nothing more than a thin blanket, using the sack of whatever they were carrying as a pillow. And here, right across the street is a five story mall filled with useless and nonessential crap. Reverse culture shock to the extreme. It disgusts me that places like this exist right across eye steer from absolute poverty. You couldn't even leave the parking lot without seeing a mound of trash at the mall's gates. There were even security guards at the mall's front whom, I'm sure, would turn away the average person who we interact with on a day to day basis on the streets. This is obviously influenced directly by US! Western culture. The majority of clothes in the mall were all very western...hardly any Indian attire.
I never realized how much I personally affected he rest of the world by simply living out my last day to day life. We all have such an influence that we are totally unaware of. It is mind blowing. That is what I learned today. --Brian Meloche


  1. Brian, I'm so glad you were able to see other sights in India. The buildings must have been spectacular! The division of wealth, or lack of it, is a rude awakening. What a great lesson you shared for all of us to deeply consider. Enjoy this last week of your trip! Love you, Mom

  2. I loved reading this Bri. I'm glad your getting so much out of your trip. Love, Alli

  3. makes me realize a lot bro.
    thank you

    travel safe