Sunday, 24 December 2006

In India

It was the first time that I came to India through Bangalore. We were going to have a regional meeting on traditional medicine. The arrival hall of Bangalore international airport was a shock. Though the Delhi international airport is quite a let down but Bangalore was even worse. All the thoughts about Bangalore being the silicon valley of India and an international symbol of the new resurgent India seemed like a joke when we arrived in that airport. They are building a new airport I was told, but a city that hosts the new infotech giants seems to be taking a rather long time in getting its act together!

Outside, the narrow streets of Bangalore choking with traffic, blaring horns and an unfinished fly-over close to the airport, is in sharp contrast with its bright shops selling top international brands. We were staying on Brigade road off the famous MG Road. The row of shops selling computers and latest infotech gadgets, and the swanky malls seemed out of the first world, squeezed in the third world of old poor India.

The traditional medicine meeting was organised in collaboration with People's International Health University and Ayurvedic medical college of Bangalore had participants from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It was very interesting and provided an opportunity for reflecting on the dominance of western thought that relegates everything else to "old, traditional, indigenous" boundaries. That ancient wisdom of milleniums that have resulted in systems of medicines like ayurveda, yunnani and sidha, are forced to "prove" themselves "scientifically" is a sign of that dominance.

Naturally we found time to go around the city for some tourist visit. The old palace of Tipu sultan completed in 1791 is beautiful with its dark browns and mahagony. On the last day, on my way to the airport, Krishna, our driver, insisted on taking me to the Shiv temple next to the Kids Kemp shopping centre. The giant statues of Ganesh and Shiv in this temple are very imposing.

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On 19th, I flew to delhi. I had some work but mostly these days in Delhi are for family reunions. Delhi is the new home of Luca and his wife Polly. Luca is my old friend Enrico's son and has come here recently. So it was natural that to visit him and to check if everything was ok for their settling down.

Om Thanvi, editor of the Hindi newspaper Jansatta invited me to his home for a party, introducing me to his other guests as "he runs a webzine call Kalpana". Surrounded by his literary friends, I felt as if I was playing a new role, used as I am to be seen as a doctor! It was a lovely evening with wonderful Rajasthani vegetarian food cooked by his wife Premlata. It was also an opportunity to meet some interesting persons like Renuka Vishwanathan and Madhu Kishwar.

Finally I saw the new central park in Connaught Place. The new metro station of Rajiv Chowk has been completed and all the "work in progress" boards have been taken off, replaced by green lawns and flowing water. There was a beautiful exhibition showing off the changes in C.P. in the central park.

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As usual, the travels to India get over so quickly and I am back to Bologna, getting nostalgic about the India days!

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