Scout report #421: A Look at the Streets of India

Akanksha Srivastava

Following is a very weird document I intercepted. Please don’t ask me how I came across it. I really don’t want to get into trouble. I may be going crazy, but it feels like it was meant to be delivered to someone sitting at least 25,000 light-years away. The strangest part is that even though I was not the recipient, this applies to me. And to you. Don’t scoff at me. Read it, and you’ll believe me.

Scout report #421: Recent report on India, a tropical landmass on Earth.

After spending 125 planetary rotations (Earthlings call it ‘days’) on this planet, I made my way into this country they call India. In my previous reports, I mentioned how inexplicable it was that the Earthlings had divided the planet into ‘continents’ and ‘countries’ and further subdivisions. I suppose the subdivisions were meant to signify superficial differences among them. I noticed that in India, these differences were even more perplexing. I traversed the peninsula for 40 days, yet I could not discover any similarities between the two communities. I could not register a tangible, real definition of this landmass they called India. Then I was told by a helpful Earthling that I needed to observe the tar strips laid across the land, called streets. I was told it would be a reflection of ‘true India,’ a phrase I verbatim picked from a resident.

On a lively and energetic street, I set up my observation. Contrary to my belief that life was not to be found on the thoroughfare, I picked up on a number of characteristics and I have certain insights that can describe this country.

Let me first begin with the description of the street itself. I believe that Indian-born Earthlings have mastered the art of street construction. They offer to dispense this knowledge in their educational institutions. I believe it’s a knowledge that members of our planet should acquire, should we ever build streets for the commute. It most assuredly is an art to build holes on the streets that act as a natural preventative measure against overspeeding. It may help our planet against the aerial accidents which are simply escalating. However, the inscribed texts used for education purposes, also called books, do not describe the procedures Indians have mastered and describe only the standard method. It’s a secret, I presume. Everyone laughs when I ask them about it and they credit different factors for this brilliant invention: the weather, the administration, the vigilantes, anything. I assume that it’s still a work in progress or a top-secret program and that’s why the accident numbers don’t really reflect the success of this measure. I believe that our planet has the capability of leveraging this method and improving upon it and I seek permission to delve into this matter.

One of the most important things I have learned is that the streets must be built wide enough as the sides are designated for litter and garbage. Indians believe in cleanliness inside their residential area, called homes, and since a street doesn’t end up in their homes, it amasses litter. Often, the accumulation of such muck and filth can be found near an enormous rectangle of paper, supported by a pole, known as a billboard. The rectangle usually has depictions of two men: a bald, smiling human male and another a bearded, smiling human male, both with vision enhancers called spectacles with an inscription written across it. The inscription says ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan’ and can be loosely translated to ‘Clean India Mission.’ I am certain the rectangle offers holographic capabilities for those two humans or information transmission at the very least. It lets them know where the garbage is so they can plan the next steps to clean it. So simple, so elegant!

The streets often have a statue as well, mostly on the intersection of multiple roads in a particular area. Often, it’s a statue of the bespectacled male I witness on the ‘Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan’ rectangle, shown with a rather long wooden stick. I am told he led Indians to freedom from years of tyranny and is called ‘Mahatma,’ or great-souled. I am not sure the fact reached the birds. On a number of instances, I also saw a statue of another male, clad in stitched clothes with a full head of hair, contrary to the former who was only wrapped a simple white fabric around him and was fairly bald. This man is also in spectacles and points his index finger towards the horizon. For some reason, a lot of intelligent historical figures in India are depicted with spectacles. Perhaps wearing vision enhancers is a sign of genius in India. This particular man had also been important to Indian history, but not one Earthling was able to tell me what he had been looking for. Maybe the birds perched on his shoulders that drop fecal matter know. I am conducting a separate research to determine his clues and will keep you posted on its progress.

There are twice as many religious institutions as there are statues. Some are on the edge of the street, some are at the end of it. If it’s not a brick-and-mortar structure, Indians are content finding a rock or a tree and associate religious importance to it. I see them carrying different types of materials into these structures- sometimes edibles, sometimes clothes. Their motivation for visiting a deity, however, is highly contrasting at times. Some offer gratitude in the form of goods if they receive a happy piece of news and some go to make a request, taking goods with them as offerings to please the deity. How their deity keeps track of such a broad array of requests is also something we should look into. If Indians have mastered the entire system of raising and resolving service requests with a supernatural deity, our planet can certainly implement a minuscule version or perhaps borrow a prototype to speed up our administration.

Moreover, I have observed that certain humans, old as well as young, consume the edibles or wear the fabric laid out for the deity. Other humans express their disapproval, but I presume that it must please the deity. Otherwise, with their fabled supernatural powers they could just smite the devotees. This makes me wonder if giving those edibles directly to the ones who need it would increase the efficiency of the entire process. A supernatural being who supposedly has everything wouldn’t need some units of food. Perhaps this process is also like the street-building mechanism- adding some hindrances for the greater good.

The streets are also an avenue to earn currency and gather sustenance. Some Earthlings sit on the edge of the street under the glowing sun, selling their produce by sprinkling drops of moisture on it and claiming it to be ‘fresh.’ Some work in air-conditioned quarters and use two or four-wheeled automobiles to commute and stop on the street to buy sustenance. When purchasing something, Indian humans raise their hands in agitated gestures along with a complaintive voice that signifies a negotiation between the two parties and finally agree on a number they both find reasonable. Females, I have found, are excellent at this kind of negotiation. The purchaser takes some paper scraps out of a stuffed pouch meant to hold currency and hands it over to the seller, who opens a barely-filled box, takes some time to arrange enough leftover currency and then proceeds to bundle up the produce. The measurements are rarely perfect from either party. Deception is rampant but is it really deception if they both acknowledge it and seem unfazed by it?

As for the members of the community, males and females in India dress and act differently as well. I have observed that their roles and behavioral guidelines are firmly defined based on their sexual orientation. It is socially acceptable for the males to urinate or spit out a colorful concoction prepared in their mouths on the street. It is also acceptable for males to seek a female mate on the street by making eccentric statements, manipulating the air with their mouths to make a sound they term as ‘whistling’ or simply following the female until they grab her attention. I have often noticed the females sweat on being followed and exhibit signs that can commonly be identified as discomfort if my notes about other communities are to be trusted. However, it seems like the female discomfort only increases the pheromone levels in the male, covering their stink of desperation. I have noticed similar behavior in females as well, albeit on a smaller scale. They might not be as conspicuous as their male counterparts and it seems like they are only beginning to learn the craft, but with time, they might just perfect the mechanism as well. The goal is to make walking down the street uncomfortable in order to search for a mate, and according to the principle of equality that all Earthlings are trying to achieve, both sexes should have equal opportunity in attaining the goal.

When I look at the streets of India, I see vibrancy. There’s something new every day. Everyone goes about their work, detached and nonchalant, undisturbed by their surroundings. No amount of holes in the middle of the road or garbage can stop this headstrong community. Except a cow. I have been told that cows are revered creatures in India, so the traffic just finds its way around a cow. I request permission to seek some bovine DNA to analyze its composition and see if we can inject our traffic controllers with the DNA to morph them into creatures that can exercise command over traffic.

Conclusion: The humans of India have certainly developed a fascinating community and its streets are equally captivating. However, I do not feel like I have scratched even the surface of understanding the composition of the community and their behavioral patterns by simply observing the streets. If anything, the streets are another aspect of the community. I will continue my observation on unraveling the secrets behind this community which is so diverse, yet so similar and unified.

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