You think you’d like me better if I was more like you…

But then I wouldn’t be me, would I?

Ladies sorting ginger roots

Wandering around Cochin, India, it’s interesting to look at the faces of the other Westerners as they peer anxiously out of tuk tuks or trudge past yet another purveyor of fine silks.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

They often look a little desperate, and is it any wonder? It’s so hot here in India’s deep South that you’re pretty much bathed in sweat ten minutes after you step out the door; salespeople are frighteningly dedicated to their vocations, and that odd rule seems to apply according to which, if it’s a cup of tea you want, all the chai shops are closed, and if it’s a beer, you’ve just hit the teetotalling part of town.

In short, our fellow travellers from the West seem to be not so much enjoying as enduring India.

It’s tempting then – when I’m in that frame of mind – to think, God, give me absolute power over this place for a year and I’ll sort the whole mess out. Literally. I mean pick up the rubbish, ban plastic, fix the footpaths, modernise the bureaucracy, send every grinning overweight politician to Nauru…

Hundred year old rain tree

But suppose I got my way, then what qwould I have achieved? New Australia? Didn’t we just fly 10 hours to get away from that smug nation? And then of course we have our own messes to sort out back home, and plenty of fat smirking politicians to go on with.

Cherai beach.

I think we are, in the West, relatively good organisers. But Indians are the best salespeople I have ever seen. The average Indian may not be able to organise a pissup in a brewery but they can sell you the brewery while the average Aussie is still putting together the guest list.

Very swanky hotel/restaurant.

So basically, back off, Kipling, and mind your own business.

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