Farmer Woman

Part of the urge to document theme.

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The Urge to Document

Q

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Village Woman

Water Pots

India is changing with such astonishing speed that I find myself in a constant state of wonder. In the West, this sort of change is known as progress. And it is about life becoming easier.  There are now highways ( often with tolls ) that cuts travel time substantially and is more comfortable than the old bumpy roads. More homes have running water instead of pumps and wells and the roadways swarm with cars, motorcycles and scooters, just to cite a few obvious examples.The price of this progress is exorbitant.

This has catapulted me into a perpetual state of conflict: the old versus the new, the benefits versus the losses. And they are many. I restrain myself from writing about it as it is painful yet I don’t want to be stuck in the past. Watching a way of life slip away in front of my eyes invades my thoughts and moods too.

The urge to document it all before it is too late is born. This gnawing compulsion accompanies me during every moment of my day while I am here in India.

My constant clicking  and obsession with taking photographs is beginning to irritate my friends who walk with me. They, too, are witnesses to this upheaval and mourn its demise. We have lived the “good” life in the West and know what we have lost in the process. We have the advantage of hindsight. If only the East could learn from the mistakes of the West, then our loss would almost be worthwhile. Learning from others mistakes is so simple yet so few of us bother. Maybe it is our nature to keep repeating the same mistakes. I hope not. I have been plagued with an optimistic view so I will continue to trust but will also be documenting what I see that moves me.

Once I have access to better equipment, I will have more photos with more in depth analysis to share with you.Posting from my phone is very limiting. Thanks for reading! Seasons Greetings too!

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That little has changed in over a month is distressing, disturbing and of course, inconvenient. The timing couldn’t be worse. This is marriage season that is a big deal in India and a big cash business, it is planting season and most of the farmers don’t have the cash for seeds (imagine what this means for the food supply down the road) and it’s the height of the tourist season as well that so many large and small businesses depend on. The magnitude of this blunder hasn’t hit yet.

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One gets very good at waiting while in India. I feel badly writing anything negative about my beloved India but this situation is beyond comprehension!

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Thanks for the sympathy, though I have fared a lot better than most foreigners because I was in India before demonetization and managed to change back a large amount. I also have local friends who help me but the majority of arriving visitors have no resources and are flying straight to Thailand. Foreigners have nothing to do with black money and are sadly left to fend for themselves. India has made an error here.

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No Money, Not Funny!

Waiting for Cash

During the first few days of “demonetization” we were all patient and thought that this disruption would pass. Most of us, myself included, had never heard of the term but in light of what was happening, it didn’t take long to comprehend its meaning. It meant that most of the money in our pockets was worthless.

It’s been one month since Prime Minister, Narendra Modi ,announced this surprise (attack) on a nation that relies on a cash economy, upsetting a lot of apple carts in the process. Over night the bills that were the most common were now illegal and not accepted anywhere. The bills that were still legal tender were in short supply and still are. The banks and ATMs closed for 24 hours. Most of us thought that with in 10 days or so, the new notes would be in circulation and business would get back to normal.The wheels turn extra slowly in India. It’s hard to imagine that the economy of a country of 1.3 billion people would just stop but it did just that.

It has been a disaster. No one has any money for basic survival unless you are rich. It is such a complicated story. I am hardly in a position to explain it or to fully understand it but I think that it was a big mistake. It is an attempt to curb black money and counterfeiting and to push the country into a cashless direction that they are not ready for.

It’s been a month and the new 500 rupee notes are still not in circulation. Most ATMs aren’t operating. A few fill up and within a half an hour are empty and there’s been a limit of 2,500 rupees that you can withdraw daily. No banks are exchanging any foreign currency period.

No special facilities or allowances have been made for foreign tourists. Can you imagine arriving at the airport in India on your long awaited holiday in early November,  only to be informed after waiting in a very long line that you can’t change more than $50.00?  Enter the money changers who are eager to change your foreign currency if you were  clever enough to have brought any with you and give you  a very unfavorable rate of exchange. Black money lives on and proliferates!

Here are a few comments by a prominent American professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Pranab Bardhan, …demonetization…”it cannot make much of a dent in the long – term problem of corruption or  black money. …..Most business people  do not keep their black income under a mattress. They keep it in the form of gold, real estate, commodity stocks and offshore accounts. Of course, they keep some amount in cash for various current transaction needs but I doubt it’s more than a very tiny percentage of total black money.”

We are all waiting, watching and hoping this mess will end soon. With it all, I am still loving India and managing to thoroughly enjoy myself. I don’t need a lot of money but I worry about how I am going to pay for this and that.  Credit card payment is not in wide use-yet!

Next post will be more aesthetic, I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

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Strolling the Streets of Delhi

This is my very first post created on a cell phone. It is an experiment. The photos were captured on the phone as well. Please forgive the lack of serious text but I am new at this. What do you think? Is it better than an extended absence?;

beds on the street

romance in the streets

The Look Out

street beds

 

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