I found it very irritating as we traveled around India talking to people who seemed to be on some sort of mythical quest to ‘Find The Real India’. They didn’t seem to grasp that they were in the ‘real’ India. Its a common thing with travelers, a search for an experience that is deemed authentic by some arbitrary criteria and alien from everything they know. To travelers working their way around the country ‘The Real India’ seems to be your standard developing nation fare. Slums, beggars, quaint villages where people subsistence farm or fish. On the other hand ‘The Real India’ pushed by the local middle class and others are buzz words like growth! success! opportunity! and wealth!.
Obviously the truth encompasses all of these things. The real India is the whole India. Life in the village is not a more authentically Indian experience than working at a software start up and drinking beer in Bangalore. Mumbai billionaires and New Delhi slum dwellers are all Indian and all ‘real’. Some people seem to believe that the more different an experience is from a western developed world experience the more authentic it is. That is fundamentally false – all experiences are authentic!
India is complex and changing and contradictory. All of these experiences weave together to create the ‘real’ India.