7 responses to Dirty India

  1. Hi Janani, yes no problem to quote the blog and use the photo.
    I am aware though that the quote you want to use is not a very positive one and without the context of the rest of the blog post, and my other ones of India, portrays my experience in India as a negative one – which it definitely wasn’t. “Dirty India” was really an attempt to highlight twisted perception and narrow-mindedness of Western visitors (me for a start!).
    However, if I can help in some small way towards your project then you’re welcome. I know the title definitely attracts attention ;) and the irony that it might help in the publicity of a cleanup project is something that appeals to me a lot.

    The photo was taken in Chittorgarh fort, if that helps you in any way.

    I would really appreciate it if you could credit the photo to Edward Morgan (www.edwardmorgan.net)

    Good luck with the Amalabharatham Campaign.

    Best regards,


  2. Dear Swazi,
    Have you heard about Amalabharatham Campaign? You’re going to love it–especially if it succeeds! Here’s a link: http://e.amritapuri.org/abc/
    I am the archivist, and make documentaries, for the organization spearheading this major cleanup campaign. I found your blog early on, and knew I’d like to quote you in the documentary. MAY I? Specifically, I quote these words:

    Litter in the streets. Litter, and whatever else anyone caught short might feel like leaving behind by the side of the road. (…) the revolting stench of open sewer is unavoidably oppressive, and the
    crap that lines the pavement, literally crap sometimes, is just there.

    And I run them under the image you used to have here–a boat in a polluted body of water (IMG_5123), showing your title and name and date of the post (it’s a screen shot from your blog).
    It’s all of 5 seconds, but it sets the stage beautifully for what I am trying to do in the documentary (thank you for saying it so well!).
    Please, is it ok with you for me to use these words and images??
    PS–Hoping you say OK–in case it becomes necessary to have a more formal agreement than this conversation, can you tell me how to reach you directly by email? Feel welcome to use my email address given above.

  3. As people say everything accompanies with pros and cons , you rubbed more of negative side of India in this blog.
    Gandhiji once said “the spirit and the soul of India rests in the village”
    A trip from Kanyakumari to Leh , you’ll come across 10s of diversified cultures different from each other, it’s like almost you travel across 10 different countries.

  4. Every coin has two sides,similarly India too has two sides.Please do visit other places(Munnar in Kerala,Bhibetka in Madhya Pradesh,Amritsar in punjab,Alwar & jaisalmer,Almora in Uttarakhand,pehlgam in J&K etc) & then decide as to whether India is a place that is to be termed dirty or whether it should be a place that has multicultural,multilingual,united & yet diverse,traditional yet modern & more importantly like Ms Bhavika said hospitable & generous people.No offences to any one.

    Hope you get to visit more places in India that would provide you a better out look of India.

  5. You’re right. It’s a shame I couldn’t write about all my friends I made there, some of whom I’ll no doubt keep for life. It just might not have been quite as amusing.

    And who’s to say I actually met anyone who was indeed ‘hospitable’ or ‘generous’?

    I can’t include everything in just one blog post so I have to choose one aspect of the country that interests me for each post. And I’m not a literary genius. I have to use the humour that’s already there.

    I hope I haven’t offended anyone by writing this. My intention was never to have a laugh at India’s expense. I would argue that perhaps you didn’t read the article through to the end because my point was really about the different ways we consider something ‘dirty’, the different interpretations of words like ‘unclean’. What might seem dirty to a foreigner is something entirely different to an Indian, and vice versa. Neither view being right or wrong.

    You demonstrated one aspect of this by assuming I was being negative.

    I don’t think anyone would argue that India’s streets are as clean as Singapore’s, but that’s not what interests me – you can keep that for the “12 Of The Cleanest Streets In The World” article.

    However, I do challenge your definition of the term ‘real traveler’. It strikes me as being similar to saying Cape Town isn’t the ‘real Africa’ simply because no one walks around in tribal dress and there aren’t zebra and wildebeest grazing on the street corners. Cape Town is Africa in the same way that anyone who travels is a traveler, even the tourists who get whisked in and out of a country without having left their hotels. They may not be the kind of person you’d invite to your wedding but they’re still entitled to call themselves travelers.

    Thanks for raising the issue though.

    A humbled but resolute,


    P.S. I have been known to leave the hotel, but only in extreme emergencies.

  6. Thanks for the comments. I heard that about Varanasi a lot in India, that you can end up thinking you’re safe, only to be finished off by a bout of Varanasi gut. Don’t know why they call it Delhi Belly.

    Varanasi Gut and Delhi Lung. That’s how I’d have it anyway.

    Are you still in India? If so, I’m more than a little jealous.

  7. Fantastic blog – both the writing and photos are top-notch. The story about the girl who shat on the doorstep cracks me up.

    I’m still getting over a stomach bug I picked up 2 weeks ago in Varanasi. My last memory of that city is projectile vomiting out of an auto-rickshaw on the way to the train station.

    And yet, I’m still glad I went…

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