In line with his previous book in which he toured the Silk Roadthe Argentine journalist Fernando Duclosknown on social media as Journalistanjust released his book A trip to India of flesh and bloodwhere he displays his impressions and sensations of spending five months in this nation of 1.4 billion inhabitants, a territory barely larger than Argentina that he presents as a place of permanent stimuli, sometimes overwhelming.
The Taj Mahalpublic cremations on the shores of the Ganges Riverthe erotic temples of Khajuraho, the beaches of Chennai, public transport such as a train heading to Goa, the rat temple in Rajasthan, the tea plantations in Munnar, food markets in Bombay, street shrines, colorful clothing. All this and much more crosses the gaze of Duclós in his new book (published by Ediciones Futurock) that is located very far from the tourist newsletter and very close to the travel chronicle to disarm the prejudices of an ancient and mysterious nation.
“Very little is known of a country that equals seven Brazils. Before traveling I started looking for books about India and I found that they all talked about yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, Gandhialways the spirituality. Obviously, it is a very important dimension, but I wanted to go find the India of flesh and blood, that of day to day. What is the daily life of an Indian like? Do they all speak the same language? How is it handled? caste system? What about arranged marriages? Is poverty as they say? Not from an exotic or condemnatory look. she thinks that one in five people in the world lives there then to understand India is to understand a large part of the planet”, says Duclós (1986) in an interview with Télam.
its more than 200 thousand followers on Twitter -the platform that catapulted him to fame with his alter ego, Periodistán- and his almost 50,000 followers on Instagram were able to see some previews of the adventures of this kind of human tide, of bustling streets and chaotic traffic, of spicy aromas and strident colors, with a pantheon of countless deities and a huge film industry, with elephants or little monkeys that walk the sidewalks of any city. “I traveled through Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Oman, Kosovo, Chechnya, Uzbekistan and many other countries but there is nothing, nothing, as different as India”, he emphasizes.
“It is a world different from everything else. He thinks that 80% of India, that is, of the Hindus, believe in the reincarnationin having a good karma to reincarnate in the next life in something better, in another caste. Someone who believes that is not simply eating spicier food or praying more times a day. Does not have another conception of time, of love, of life, of marriages, of death, of work, of everything. I think that for this reason, being such a different world, what comes to us is what we can more or less adapt to our western lives: the yogaMedicine ayurvedathe meditation. It arrives in an incomplete way but it arrives, I think that is why we only know a few generalities about India”, analyzes Duclós.
With a narrative thread that is structured in chapters with a geographical and chronological criteria, the author seeks to portray the daily life but also the culture and customs of its inhabitants, from the different regions that he visits, while including the themes that seem to be essential: the povertypublic transportation, the caste system, the place of women in society, religion, Hinduism, the pantheon of gods and goddesses, the arranged marriagessex, love, the history of the country.
Anecdotes slip through, such as seeing a dentist on the street with all his instruments working in his patient’s mouth, or the ashes of corpses on the way to the sacred Ganges river, the majestic Palace of the Winds, someone who shaves in the middle of the street, a monkey that eats the floral offerings that are left to the Buddha in a sanctuary, traditional dances and rituals, ascetics in the streets, supermarkets, mosques, bazaars, the flower market in Calcutta or a ceremony to worship the gods.
“More than a country, India is a subcontinent: a civilization where a lot of completely different people live together. There are a lot of Indies within a single country. In the north and in the south, for example, they speak different languages. They don’t understand each other, they eat different foods, they have different customs. If you think ‘let’s try Indian food’ as if it were only one thing, you are wrong. I insist, there are 1.4 billion people”, explains the author.
-You say that India is a place of permanent stimuli, sometimes overwhelming, how would you exemplify that?
-India is excess, exaggeration, stimulus 24×7, total intensity. There is no peace or silence, mainly in big cities like Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta. It’s a whole new world where everything is surprise. You go out into the street and literally anything can happen, a birth, a death, a passing cow, an elephant. Horns are heard all the time, at all hours; crossing the street is a miracle. It is absolute and total street and traffic anarchy but it works very well. The first two months I entrusted myself to all the gods of the Hindu pantheon to cross the street and it took me ten minutes to find the moment. Until I realized that I never saw crashes or run overs. And I cheered up. In the end he was an expert in crossing. For those who travel to India, the most notable first thing is the madness of the traffic.
-In a section of the book you talk about the north, which is known as the golden triangle: Delhi, Jaipur, Agra (stately India, with elephants in the streets, princesses and palaces). Is this the most widespread view of India?
-Yes, North India is the most touristy part. One generally arrives at the airport in Delhi, the capital, and it is closest to the Golden Triangle, the Taj Mahal, which is a beauty, Rajasthan, which is a very characteristic province where the city of Jaipur, Varanasi, is located. It is the area in which it is spoken Hindiwhich is the official language, but there is no national language spoken by all. That area is the one that shows bollywoodwhich is the Indian film industry that speaks Hindi, but there are many other very important Indian film industries that speak other languages, such as kollywood with K and so many other places. But yes, it is the most touristy India, where the government is, without a doubt the epicenter, we could say.
-How did this idea so associated with India of “the internal journey” affect you during the tour?
-I am very skeptical about this idea that someone has to go to a certain place to “find themselves”. But it is true that traveling confronts you with unexpected situations. As I told you, everything I found in bookstores about India was about the soul, yoga, Ayurveda and meditation, so I was even more skeptical and it ended up happening that finally yes, I also made an internal journey because India sweeps you completely in her stream.
-There one finds situations so different from what they are used to, such a different organization of the world, which inevitably begins to ask a lot about his actions. You end up taking a trip introspection, thinking a lot of things because the material reality is very different. And in the end, without realizing it, I was taking that introspective trip that I had underestimated so much before. India drags everyone, even if it is in different ways. And you end up getting to know each other better.
Source: Télam SE
“A trip to India of flesh and blood”, a country that is much more than yoga and Ayurveda