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India - The big departure

Updated: Nov 27, 2023




If you had told me, 7 years ago, that one day I would go to India, I would have called you, at the very least, a confabulator.


India, a country not made for me, at least that's what I believed at the time.

A country not made for the more conservative person, keen on hygiene and clean toilets, that I was.


Seven years later, after learning to drive a motorcycle, traveling in adventure mode in Canada but also in the USA, Colombia, Vietnam and Thailand. I am ready. Ready to push my limits once again. Once again, I'm nervous,... I'm even a little scared. What will I discover in this country of contrasts, but also and above all, about myself. India is the country of extremes.


Surprised, or not,... after choosing this destination for my next trip, and buying the plane tickets, it started to go from bad to worse.



Nipah: More fear than harm

The upheavals begin with a virus, Nipah. This appeared in 1998 in Malaysia. After the health authorities became frightened and decided to apply a horse remedy by killing more than a million pigs, they realized that it was rather fruit bats (a type of bat) which transmitted the disease and not pigs.

So, two months before my departure, I learned that there was an outbreak of Nipah in the south of India, precisely where my trip was to begin. I was monitoring the situation closely.


After

-confined nine villages with movement restrictions;

-imposed social distancing, compulsory wearing of masks and restriction of public events;

-issued alerts to neighboring districts and states for enhanced surveillance;


they end up with two deaths out of a population of 1.4 billion. When we know that more than 300,000 Indian children die of diarrhea every year, I wonder about the choices that are made.


Hey, it’s funny, it makes me think of another virus for which the cure was worse than the disease...



Trudeau: more harm than fear

This other well-known virus has been acting up every week since I purchased my tickets. Whether:


-the mixed reception at the G20 summit, following, among other things, his visit to India in 2018 where his traditional costumes were made fun of and where he was reprimanded by Indian diplomats for having invited a Sikh extremist at an official reception;

-its lax approach towards Sikh activists, present in Canada, who promote separatism and incite violence against Indian diplomats in addition to threatening the Indian community and its places of worship;

-his plane broke down delaying his return to Canada;

-his allegations, never proven, of a potential link between Indian government agents and the assassination of a Sikh terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had obtained Canadian citizenship;

-his attempt to involve the United States by asking it to publicly condemn the killing, which Biden refused.


By thus publicly embarrassing Prime Minister Modi, Trudeau found himself even more isolated on the international scene and, obviously, India responded by ceasing to grant visas to Canadians wishing to travel to their country and demanding the departure of 41 Canadian diplomats. Trudeau refused but... he was still obliged to follow up on Modi's request. Did he think he was authorized to decide India's internal policies?


Fortunately, I obtained my visa when I purchased the plane tickets and these reversals hardly affect me. Furthermore, my contacts in India confirm to me that the population has no use for the quibbles of our leaders.



So, shall we leave?

It is important to understand a country before departure, because traveling is also a way of discovering the world.


All the bad news, relayed ad nauseam by the media, encourages us to overestimate the danger. I would even say that being afraid of everything and having prejudices... it's a bit incompatible with being a traveler!

It's normal to be afraid as an initial reaction, but it's not normal to stay like that, not to inform yourself and to prevent yourself from finding out.

We should not deprive ourselves of traveling, at least not for risks which are, in fact, much less great than those we take every day at home, such as driving.



India in brief...

India and Canada have strong ties. Canada has the highest proportion of immigrants among the G7 countries, with one in 4 Canadians born in another country and 1 in 5 Canadian immigrants born in India.


More than 470 million Indians live on less than $4 per day but there are more than 800 000 millionaires.


India is also the world's leading producer of rice, the 2nd of tea, sugar and wheat. They make their cars, their trains, their planes, their rockets, their satellites, their atomic bombs but also, and above all, their motorcycles.


Land of the Kama Sutra, texts on eroticism and emotional fulfillment but also a country where tens of thousands of women are raped every year.


India, whose cultural wealth is incomparable but where 20% of men and 40% of women are illiterate.


India, origin of tasty cuisine and spices which increasingly adorn Quebec plates but also a place where drinking water is very difficult to access.


Modern country with more than 4 million computer scientists but where the various religions mark all aspects of daily life and where the caste system is still very present.


India, 10th in the world for medical tourism but 1st for deaths due to the rabies virus.


India, sought after by backpackers for its cheap hotels, its gastronomy, its temples, its welcoming population.


We're going to have fun

India, a country that I can't wait to discover. I am embarking very soon on a long journey of around thirty hours. Quebec-Montreal-Dubai-Chennai (Madras). Come with me, I'm going to be a lot less serious in my next posts and... we're going to have fun.













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