A Travellerspoint blog

May I Touch Your Feet Please?

sunny 32 °C

With northern India behind us we’re keeping up with the sun and heading south to India’s ancient coastal city, Chennai, (previously called Madras). According to our guide book, Chennai is a big smoky, chaotic city – so what’s new? This is India; at least one thousand two hundred million people live here -forty times the population of Canada – so everywhere is terribly polluted and chaotic. But, despite all the frenzy, we’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the kindness, generosity and courtesy shown by the locals. Here’s just a few of them…
Before we came we read horror stories of taxi drivers claiming that the hotel you booked has just closed, burnt down or collapsed, so they can take you to another where they will get commission. We heard of shoeshine boys’ accomplices throwing shit on your shoes to drum up trade, and we were assured that everybody would be out to rip us off or beg the pants off us. None of this has been true. If we have been ripped off we’ve not noticed it and we’ve often paid more than requested because they’ve asked so little. People have offered help and advice wherever we have been without trying to sell us anything or get a tip, and beggars have generally been less aggressive and persistent than those in Vancouver.

Life can be very hard here but people seem happy – imagine carrying a load like this...
And this lovely lady just sat by the roadside and explained to us in perfect Hindi that her knees were giving her grief. We didn’t understand a word but knew exactly what she was saying...
So, despite the aggravations of foul air, garbage littered streets, potholed roads and late trains, our journey so far has been made pleasant because of the kindness of the Indian people. Reverence for elders may have played a part in the way we have been treated, and we were particularly surprised, if not a little embarrassed, when a group of students asked if they might touch our feet in respect, as is their custom. This is a custom that the students on the Gabriola ferry might want to emulate!

Posted by Hawkson 05:03 Archived in India

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Be careful what you wish for re the touching of your feet on the Gabriola Ferry. Very funny. Glad you had the experience though of being respected as an elder. I was beginning to think it was a myth.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Took a break from frantic house cleaning (B is back tomorrow) to enjoy your blog. We found the same kindness in Mexico when we ventured inland away from the tourist strips.

by R and B

Have been following your adventures with interest (and envy).
I remember the tradition of showing respect by touching the foot of a venerable person when we visited Nanaji in Chitrakoot. He was revered as a God by local villagers so you must have made a big impression.
Sub-zero temperatures and snow in the UK. Send us some sun please!

by Heather

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