Almost everywhere we have been we have found the people to be friendly and helpful. When we take a walk we are greeted with Namaste and folded hands. If we see them again we talk and are invited to tea or lunch. Then it’s “Please come and stay with us while we are both in Delhi.” We are now planning to vacation is South India with some of the friends we have made. Many have told me that they appreciate my effort to maintain the Indian customs and dress. One of my lady friends remarked, “You are more Indian than I am.”
As I have said, India is not for the faint of heart. Basically, things don’t work well here. Electricity comes and goes, sometimes for days at a time. Many of our friends and family have backup power generators. Homes are not constructed with insulation. There is no central heat and air. The outside air temperature of 50 degrees F can make for a very cold house and a very hot house when it gets to 115 degrees F in many parts of India. I cannot imagine what winter would be like. This winter we went back to the States.
India’s infrastructure is poor and getting worse. The roads are crowded and in need of repair. Repairs that are made do not last more than a year due to substandard materials. Delhi is two hundred miles from Ghorakhal. It takes a bone jarring eight hours by car. Our flight from the States was delayed due to weather. The delay caused us to miss our train and we could not get tickets on short notice. Traffic especially in the cities is very heavy and traffic laws are not obeyed. The biggest vehicle takes the right of way. Pedestrians, goats, horses and oxen pulling carts are allowed on the toll roads. The railways and trains are owned by the government and have not been upgraded in years. One must book a ticket thirty days in advance and then be put on a waiting list. Only 47% of Indian households have toilets, 3% use public facilities while the rest relieve themselves out in the open. Garbage management is almost nonexistent, even in the big cities. Garbage is thrown in any empty space that can be found or out the front door into the street. The lack of bathrooms and untreated garbage has contaminated most of India’s ground water and rivers. Only 33% of households have access to treated water. Those households with means have a water filter. Much of the construction is done by unskilled hand labor. There seems to be no uniform building or electrical codes. Bribes are expected and required to get anything done. Cooking gas is government subsidized. Since we are not Indian citizens we cannot legally buy it, forcing us to get it from the black market.
India is not a pet friendly country. Though it was expensive we were able to bring our two elderly dogs. Both have since passed away. This year due to a change in the law only those planning to permanently relocate here are able to bring in their dog or cat. The loss of our pets left a huge hole in our hearts. While we were in the States and after we obtained our new family members, two Toy Fox Terriers we found out about the change in pet regulations. Tourists will not be allowed to bring in their pets period. The cost of relocating our pets including air fare, pet passports and bribes ran us $2700.00. Our pets were held for 16 hours by Delhi’s cargo hold and not released to us until we paid the bribe. Fortunately we were allowed to feed and water them while they were being held. Including the flight time they spent 30 hours in their crates. We were fearful that they would be stolen as I have not been able to find the breed here. My husband and I have decided that if we do leave India with our dogs we will not return.
The negatives of India have caused us to rethink our retirement here. We plan to extend our stay here for the next twenty months. At that point one or both of us and our pet children will fly back to the states to see family and take care of business. I do love where we are living now and our simple peaceful lifestyle. There are many parts of India we want to see and experience. We have made some very good and dear friends here. We are not sure if we want to put up with the lack of infrastructure, the difficulty with traveling from place to place and India’s growing population and bribe expectations. Time will tell.
Click for additional posts about India.