The Age of Kali - William Dalrymple
In anticipation of the Indian chapters to this adventure, I started the above (thanks J - super recommendation).
What a shocker.
The book was published in 1998 and paints a picture of the amazing subcontinent that India is. But it has also shocked me on many fronts, for example:
- that there are as many as 3000 castes and subcastes. Even though the caste system no longer officially exists, in practice it is still deeply engrained in Indian society
- that so many ancient customs are still practiced - even those that seem totally out of place. For example, he tells the true story of an investigation into the practice of 'Sati' where a widowed woman throws herself on her dead husnand's funeral pyre ( the case investigated whether the local village forced an 18 year old widew to do so)
- that the practice of Hinduism remains unchanged from the times of the Roman Empire
- and lots more.
I have been warned to be ready for the culture shock in India - people absolutely everywhere, dirt and rubbish absolutely everywhere, unbelievably chaotic driving everywhere (with horns blaring incessantly) - and that is just for starters.
Whoever said travel was the best educator was right.