Opinion / Huang Xiangyang

The unexpected kaleidoscope that is India

By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily) Updated: 2013-02-28 07:37

The unexpected kaleidoscope that is India

India has long been a fascinating country, both familiar and obscure, for me.

Familiar because Indian songs and dances from Bollywood movies such as Awara and Caravan in my adolescent days and Three Idiots in recent years, have always been a source of happiness for me.

Obscure because I have never been able to put the jigsaw of information about India together to get a clear and complete picture of the country. Is it on a fast track to catch up with China as an emerging economic power - with its growing IT clout and robust private sector - or is it still bogged down in mass poverty and corruption, which makes any talk about its imminent ascent vacuous?

The urge to get an answer, to see the country and its people, landscape and culture firsthand, prompted my wife and I to finally board an Air China flight to New Delhi for a week-long trip on Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve.

The timing could not have been worse. Just prior to our departure, news about a gang rape on a public bus in New Delhi hit the headlines. China Central Television dubbed New Delhi "the rape capital". It was no surprise that we got repeated, well-meaning advice from relatives and friends, asking us to think twice before embarking on the trip, citing security concerns and hygiene problems among other potential hazards.

So our passage to India started like an adventure.

To avoid scams, we had arranged for a car for the entire trip. Our driver's knowledge of English was not good, but enough for him to understand where we wanted to go and when. The first two days in New Delhi, a city of historical sites, trees and birds, were trouble free. And we expected a smooth journey in the following days.

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