So I’m an American & I’m traveling in the third world (maybe India is somewhere in-between by now) & I feel it is important that I represent!Â So I’m trying to use a hugely disproportionate allocation of resources while I’m here.Â But it really isn’t easy.Â
- Showers: It is very very hard to take 1 hour scalding showers when it is 4 milion degrees outside.Â Though that is in Celsius, so it is only like 2 Million degrees Fahrenheit.Â (& with the wind chill factor it’s like 1.9999 Million degrees F.)
- Air Conditioning: I have in good conscience paid for A/C in almost every accommodation I’ve been in out of fear that I’ll need it.Â But can global warming boy bring himself to use it?Â Noooooo.Â The Indians are always stunned that I just use the ceiling fans. (As an aside, I’m actually holding up to the temperatures quite well I’ve learned that while a little sweat is annoying and icky, a constant soothing layer of moisture is really really a great thing.)
- Food: I’m on a houseboat (think giant wicker & bamboo gondola) trundling around the estuarine “Backwaters” of Kerala, a state on the southwest coast.Â And there is a three person staff whose job is to cook for me and cart me around in the massive houseboat.Â Out of deference & respect for their efforts, I eat everything that is placed in front of me.Â So naturally this a chance for my burn-through-Angrazi-style ethos to manifest (Angrazi is Indo-slang for English, but it covers us Yanks too).Â But while the food is quite good, there is a lot of fish involved.Â Me no likey the pesci!Â So I eat it dutifully but can’t bring myself to the Ultra-Big-Gulp-at-7-11 largesse required.Â Today there was a clam-biryani-casserole-esque thing.Â A reasonable (though small) portion of spongy filterfeeding bivalve “goodness” was consumed.Â But no, I did not pig out (did i mention spongy bivalves?).Â Yet another failure.
That all being said, there have been a few notable successes:
- this houseboat itself.Â While my guidebook speaks of a growing possibility of environmental sensitivity & accreditation, I, in my haste & inexperience (ok LACK OF PLANNING) did not book a pole-driven classic class (though they may be extinct) and got a luxury outboard motor one.Â (Actually, the irony is that if this was in the States, I would not have even thought this could be done w/out a motor.Â But here I feel guilt.)Â
- Ok, I am flying a lot.Â My friends and I have already have had a big talk about carbon credits & the lameness of buying such “indulgences” from the “church” – but I will be doing so nonetheless.Â Again, I need to be a better trip planner, but as usual I trade everything for time & historically I always thought that just meant deficit spending (pay back the credit cards when you’re home!), but now I see the energy costs too… hmmm
But – my crowning achievement (and this one I am truly proud of – Cue “The Star Spangled Banner!”)
- I have managed to use the entire (albeit small) roll of toilet paper in each accommodation I’ve staid in!Â Yeah baby! Thank you, thank you so much….
Maybe with any luck, my next driver pickup will be will be a in a big-ass SUV 🙂
On a side note, though Kerala is relatively clean and pretty, most of the parts of India I’ve seen (Tamil Nadu! Delhi) are covered in swaths of trash, mostly plastic.Â It’s devastating to see. I’ve seen it in other parts of the world too, but somehow it seems worse here.Â How the every-day Indian-on-the-street can look at this day in and day out & do nothing (at least it seems) stuns, baffles, and devastates me.
My guess is that a generation ago all of their trash was biodegradeable & they haven’t mentally made the switch.Â That combined with their rapidly accelerating economy means the results are everywhere.Â I read an article in the local paper the other day trumpeting the fact that India was now the worlds 8th largest consumer of plastic.Â The undertone was “Progress!”Â Sigh.Â Been there done that, don’t follow us.Â Â Various correlations between poverty and litter have been flipping through my mind as well.Â Like how much dirtier Mission St. than say Valencia…. Post-capitalist values is the term I’ve hear applied.