India is a country of great contradictions. When I was still in the Netherlands and told people that I would go to India and work here for a year, people always had an opinion. And all responses more or less had the same message: Wow, super cool challenge and nice job, but India??? It’s really dirty there, and eating the food can be dangerous.
I mainly focused on the first part, ‘Wow, super cool challenge and nice job’, rather than the second part and decided to see and find out for myself. I was hoping that people who said this (some actually went to India for vacation or work) were wrong, or at least exaggerating. But now, after 3 months I can say with certainty that both are true. The work is super cool and challenging and if such a job existed in the Netherlands, I would definitely apply for it. I am on the field with each age group on average 9 times a week, so 3x as often as in The Netherlands. In no time you will see a lot of improvement and you have the time to devote an entire training to 1 technique. What else does a coach want?!
But indeed, India is not a very clean country, although I have to say that it also depends on where you are in India. For example Jamshedpur (where the boys academy is located) is a real industrial city. The city is built around the factories of Tata Steel, and there is no way of getting around that. And while Bhubaneswar (where the girls are) is a lot more prosperous, it is often a bit dirty as well.
How come you ask? Of course I don’t have the answer to that, otherwise it would have been changed already. However, what I do see and notice is that in many areas India is behind on The Netherlands and Europe. The difference between rich and poor is so terribly big here, that is not explained in a blog. I can’t show you with a photo either, because I’m ashamed to photograph poverty as a “rich” white person. The bad thing is that a lot depends on where you are born and who your parents are. The caste system certainly still exists in a way, especially in the poorer states of the country. From the first moment they realize that they can never make it completely in this society because they cannot go to a good school. Their parents have no money for that or they have to support their parents with their jobs because otherwise they have nothing to eat with the result that the as adults they, like their parents, end up in manual labor or simple professions.
There are little to no bins on the street and I rarely, if ever, see garbage trucks or those beautiful broom wagons sweeping the street. It happened that I went to a temple on top of a mountain, but it was littered with plastic bags. These bags (incl. content) were sold at the foot of the mountain. No one kept his bag until he/she came across a bin, but instead just threw it on the ground. Moreover, I haven’t seen a bin that entire trip. Too many people here are glad they can actually afford food that’s wrapped in plastic, and they have the money to have an outing. Worrying about the environment is not on top of their mind.
All here is bad then?
No of course not. The people here are super nice, whether they have a lot of money or not, it doesn’t matter. I can really eat anywhere, in restaurants, at people’s homes, but also at street eateries. You should only be able to handle spicy food, then there is little to be worried about. Fortunately, nature is also really beautiful! But to see the most beautiful sports you have to pay to enter and/or it is a 1.5hour drive from the city. That is why only wealthy people come.
What I have learned in the past 3 months is that I can be very happy that my cradle was in the Netherlands and not in India. Opportunities are not for everyone here and I haven’t even mentioned the difference between what men and women may/can do. So yeah, I hate the mess, the pollution and the chaos here. But on the other hand, I love the opportunities here to make a difference, the nice people and the beautiful nature.
At the time of writing, I have just started my 2.5 month tournament trip through India. The following blogs will also be about hockey tournaments and how traveling in this (crazy) country is going.