India vs Nepal. Across the border for a different cultural experience.
The first thing that strikes you when you reach Kathmandu is that at a distance of less than 300 KM from the Indian border how different a culture is. Still a mainly Hindu nation the atmosphere and the feel of the place is more rooted in the far east than nurtured from Indian values. Women have a place here. Never once were we served by women in India. There are women in the market selling fruit and veg but in restaurants and cafes only men serve and prepare the food. I only saw one women drive a motorcycle. Women in India are a means to an end. Give birth to a son for their husband. Family cliches are maintained through arranged marriages. It is frowned upon for women talk to men, foreigners, or anyone else outside their family group in public. Their place is at home with the family. Over the border women are everywhere. Feeding you, selling stuff, repairing roads, smiling. There are arranged marriages here but there is a choice of whether to accept or not. Nepal has moved on. My girls who I am travelling with feel more comfortable and more accepted here.
Nepal is also much cleaner. It has the same scruffy, untidy appearance as Thailand but it is not is filthy.
Kathmandu is a typical Asian town that caters for tourists. Kathmandu is the centre for mountaineering and trekking and its obvious that many travel here to experience the Himalayas. The people are friendly and courteous, don’t hassle to much, prices are not too over inflated and (I forgot to mention this earlier), unlike India you can buy a beer anywhere.
Which brings me on to an issue that has concerned me. You can’t get a beer in India unless you are in a top hotel or buy from a few government run shops. The nearest place I could buy a beer from where I was staying in Varanasi was 1 hr walk away. There is nowhere for the local population to sit down and relax. No place to unwind and free your thoughts. Commerce and commotion around the main areas of town is achieved at 120db with hardly a place to breathe. Its difficult to chillout in a hornets nest.
There are few if any places the male youth of India can release the emotional and sexual tensions that their bodies and minds crave for. It’s a natural process that demands a release. Without it the heat in the pressure cooker of adolescence will increase. Of course India is not the only country where the young male has little release for these energies within. All the Arab nations and most Muslim based regimes do not allow pleasures that we take for granted in the West. This is bound to fuel frustration in young males. They are genetically engineered to find release as much as women’s bodies through puberty, change to have babies. If you believe in God then he made us in his likeness. Whose likeness? The one we are genetically engineered for or the one we are told to be like. To fence in the frustrations is cruel and dangerous. A stable civilisation is one that is balanced. Spiritually and pragmatic. This does not mean the sexes are equal. They are not. What it does mean that everyone gets on and does the stuff they are best equipped to do. E=(MC2) is just as useful to explain the universe as is it is to define the health of a civilisation. To have a civilisation so heavily tilted towards male dominance disturbs that balance.