That "Incredible India" is the marketing jargon of the Indian Tourism Board. And I agree about it.
I learned about India from Kampung Madras, Medan, North Sumatra, India. Kampung Madras is an Indian enclave with market, restaurants, textile shops, Indian herb shops and temples. People from North and South of India have migrated here during the Dutch periods to work in plantations because the local Bataks refused to work for the Dutch. The atmosphere of Kampung Madras was always nice and inviting for me so I visited this place almost every day when I lived in Medan. The traditional market has the best products in Medan with a slightly higher price than other market; the restaurants offer the real Indian taste prepared by the native Indians; many women still appear in traditional sari and red-coloured nails using henna; the temples from various believes are actively used for ceremonies; the shops sell colourful accessories and textiles; and the last but very important, Kampung Madras is the location of the Virtous Bridge with inscriptions in three languages : Jawi, Dutch and Mandarin.

Sumatra Heritage Trust has conducted a survey and tried to publish a book about the history of Indian community in Medan. Some volunteers worked hard for months. We did a lot of interviews with various figures and collected beautiful pictures taken around Kampung Madras.

Luckily I had a chance to join the International Field of Asian Heritage in India for two weeks in January 2005. We visited the grassroot organizations in the field of heritage conservation in several places in India. We met and discussed with activists. Day in day out we travelled by bus. It was an impressive experience for me in terms of culture, history and civil actions. I was lucky to have a chance to visit the ashram of Gandhi since I am a big fan of his philosophy.

I love books about India, too. Now I am reading "the White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga (borrowed from a friend!) But I do not see too many Indian films, they were too long for me. I saw "Gandhi" though and the last one, Slumdog Millionaire, was smart film although I had to close my eyes for several scenes.

I have a hope to enjoy "Incredible India" again in the future.


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