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The Beauty of Organised Chaos first impressions of jaipur by michelle zhu

India is sorely under-represented in the media. There are a lot of things media does not tell us about India and its multitude of religions, subcultures and traditions. But there is one thing that most people do know; India has a lot of people. 1.3 billion people to be precise.

When the UQ in India team touched down in New Dehli airport for our next flight to Jaipur, we were greeted with queues and crowds. Human activity was all around and everybody had a destination in mind, and they would stop at nothing in order to get there. Unfortunately, we were unable to get to our destination because our group of twenty two had collectively missed a flight. So our alternative was to take on the road, all the way from New Dehli to Jaipur, and to watch the country pass us by. Little did we know, we would learn so much just by being on the road and being a part of it all.

We swerved through the cities in the cab with faulty seat belts, found ourselves overtaking trucks, zig zagging across 16-lane roads, or using the horn as an indicator, just to avoid slowing down and delaying our trip. But at no point did we truly feel unsafe, and our trust in the drivers proved to not have been misplaced. I observed that despite the chaos, we did not question our drivers' abilities to drive. They had a handle on the hectic nature of the roads, and this was their normalcy. There was a communication in the the honking, overtaking and speeding and translated into its own language that everybody seemed to understand. It was beautiful in its own way, and it worked.

"No matter where you look there is always excitement, and I think it's amazing that 1.3 billion people can live in this place and thrive."

I asked former ABC correspondent Bruce Woolley about his experiences and whether he was overwhelmed by the crowds, and he said, "The first thing I discovered was that it can feel like it's dangerous, but the next thing I feel is that it's a city where there's always something happening. No matter where you look there is always excitement, and I think it's amazing that 1.3 billion people can live in this place and thrive. A lot of people have it tough, but a lot of people are making a wonderful life out of it."

Going to the Amber Fort and Palace in Jaipur was similar, except now the traffic was humans stepping out of their vehicles and zig zagging around each other. We hiked up stairs, passed by huge groups of people, saw people crowding around single monuments. There were foreign tourists and there were Indians from other parts of the country, coming to observe and admire the beauty of Jaipur. There was a festival occurring at the time, and with the vibrancy of the music, the crowds and excited chatter only contributed to the energy.

Some people set up tents to live here but people wait just to enjoy the culture of Jaipur."

Local tour guide Sanjay was leading another group of foreigners throughout the fort, and his job entails doing a tour a day to the most spectacular monuments in Jaipur city. He was born and raised in the city and could only speak highly of it. "It gets really crowded in Jaipur. Sometimes at the Fort you get over ten thousand people who come here a day. There's usually a line that goes to the exit for the elephant rides where people wait for two hours. Some people set up tents to live here but people wait just to enjoy the culture of Jaipur."

"In public, discrimination against people regarding the Caste system is a very serious offence. Now, even the president of India is from the Untouchable caste."

India is changing, and to have so many people co-existing in one country also means to create a greater understanding of each other and their diversities. India's overwhelming population means that in order to have a harmonious country, people must become accepting of the differences that lie in the different religions and ways of life. Although it has not always been smooth sailing, with the Caste system and its hierarchies, tensions between the Muslim and Hindu faiths, and riots and strikes involving education, we can see a change and sense it in the air.

Our tour guide, Devendra Singh, explained to us, "Over 200 years back, there was a group of people who were always in touch with germs and untouchables and because it was such an epidemic to society, they were separated and considered Untouchable. But now, as we see those cures for infections and diseases, there is no longer the recognition of Untouchables. Still, in very remote and religious parts of India, the societies are still very conservative and you may find a little discrimination in the mind but not in public. In public, discrimination against people regarding the Caste system is a very serious offence. Now even the president of India is from the Untouchable caste. The past president and a high court supreme court judges are from the Untouchable cast. In the last 65 years, India's conditions have improved a lot."

When one thinks of busy streets, one imagines crowds of people and disorganisation. But there was a type of organisation in the crowds that indicated that there was an understanding and tolerance between the people. Crowds also indicate that there is a mass-gathering of people, and in this case, there is growing diversity within those gatherings. It was heartwarming to see people of different Caste systems interacting openly with one another, taking photos of their country's monuments, and taking pride in their people instead of avoiding them.

Located in a country where there are 1.3 billion people who are constantly working and contributing to its society, one must throw conceived notions of normalcy out the window. With nearly a seventh of the world's population in a single country, being constantly surrounded by human activity must come as no surprise. Even in our own organised chaos, the group was able to come to a mutual understanding and turn it into its own type of communication. It is even better when we go into that chaos with the open-minded attitude to learn an entirely new type of language of its own, to not reject the organised chaos but to speak its language and embrace it all.

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