I suppose it’s because it is a truly multi-cultural country. In Bangalore on Friday I saw people gathering at Mosques for Friday prayers and today, on the way from Chennai airport to the Taj Connemara, I saw a large crowd flooding out of an Evangelical Christian Church. In fact, in a few hundred yards there were three Christian churches on one side of the road, at least two Hindu Temples and a Mosque on the other.
The lack of a weekend – or any form of it that would seem familiar to someone from the UK – further underlines the sense that this is a country in a hurry with no time for a day, let alone two, off. Its rushing economically, new infrastructure is bursting from the soil like poppies in a cornfield and you get the sense that if you were to gaze too long at an open space a building would appear on it before your eyes. I have no doubt some better informed observers would say all this is happening against a backdrop of unchanging, timeless India. That may be true – certainly you wouldn’t see a cow strolling across a busy (for ‘busy’ read ‘insane’) road junction in Birmingham – but the overall feeling from the big metro cities, which are just about my only experience of the country, is that India is going places – lots of places – at break neck speed.
Seeing full frontal capitalism at work is a bit like being a rabbit caught stock still in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut. All credit, though, to the profit-seeking the genius who came up with my favourite advertising slogan of the millions I’ve seen here on hoardings, shop fronts and daubed on walls. ‘Water’, it said, ‘now with H2O’.