India Observations – Cultural Treasures

October 4, 2006

in general

Guy Kawasaki describes a few days visit to Mumbai as a "mind-expanding experience". He has a fun set of initial insights. As I read them I felt my first experiences all over again. Still some six months later that’s just scratching the surface. India and Mumbai (I still prefer Bombay — as do many that live there!) in particular assaults the senses. If you don’t believe me read Suketu Mehta’s book Maximum City and listen to this intro from Poptech on ITConversations.

Rather than dwell on the initial impact I appreciate the "history" that is here. While I received one version of a history lesson at the Swaminarayan sect’s Akshardham in New Delhi (the Indian’s invented everything!) in a religious Disneyland (no offense meant although it is ostentatious and some would say obscene) it’s quickly clear that India has a rich history. It’s an important aspect in a culture. It’s something I miss in the US and never found down under. History there for the most part goes back a couple of generations and lacks any real historical artifacts. By contrast in Europe you have medieval cities everywhere. History frames behaviors and understanding.

This is a country you could spend months wandering from tomb to palace. The pressure of progress may ignore some of the fantastic treasures that exist in India. Caste systems still exist in villages, and life with all its contrasts has perhaps only really changed dramatically for 20% of the population and that too only in the last few years.

I hope Indians turn and preserve their history while on their mad dash to the promise of capitalism. The sheer number of people here make this a daily challenge. I live in Gurgaon a city that didn’t exist five years ago. It’s now a tech center and booming. They are building the new Indian palace here. It’s also another post.

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