Discovering India for the First Time: The Feelings of a Franco-Egyptian Girl

Posted by Laura Mansour • Monday, July 25. 2011 • Category: People and Places
At first glance one could say that there is no point in comparing Egypt and India, but when I came here I noticed that there were quite some similarities between these two countries. When I first arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi I had this strange feeling of familiarity. Facing me there were hundreds of Indians staring at me but it didn’t disturb me, the same thing occurs in Egypt, so I am quite used to it. I only realized that I was in India on the way to my flat, when I tried to explain to my taxi driver who didn’t speak a word of English how to get there. From that moment I understood that in India things could quickly get more complicated and that I had to sweat it out. A challenging programme was waiting for me; will I be able to measure up to it?

The first days I decided to gather my courage and discover my neighbourhood. I made this leap to have a glimpse of India’s living conditions and culture and I quickly realized that I was not in an environment that was completely foreign to me. I was walking along the main market of Malviya Nagar when I had this strange feeling: it was a mixture of a dream and a flashback from my time in Egypt.

The panorama that stood in front of me, the city of Delhi with its crowded streets, noises and smells, reassured me somewhat. I found here the same hawkers shouting their slogans, the same sweltering atmosphere of the days of extreme heat and also the same frame of mind: bargaining. Nothing better than going to shop in a local market or to launch into the traffic jam to feel fully immersed. Crossing a busy intersection involved similar risks! However, it reminds me of how my cousins in Egypt who used to take my hand to help me cross the street – now I can proudly say “I can cross the street on my own!”

It is true that when when many people think about these two countries, one word comes first in their minds: poverty. Children, the unemployed and handicapped are the most affected by poverty and it is a fact that one often comes across beggars, touts and children who are trying to sell roses. Nevertheless, you have to go beyond that kind of stereotype if you really want to appreciate the splendour of these countries. Simple people, always welcoming, with a sense of mutual support, that is what I found here, not to mention the gorgeous sceneries which are classified among the Seven Wonders of the World.

Some scenes particularly struck me. Just look at these pictures and try to tell which country it is:

Continue reading "Discovering India for the First Time: The Feelings of a Franco-Egyptian Girl"