Todd went home on Monday the 12th of March. We had promised the kiddos that while Todd was here we would go to an amusement park. I had some people on the Ex-Pat website recommend Wonder La, a huge amusement park on the way to Mysore. We looked at the rides and discussed what we would do. Then I told my yoga moms about the plan and they told me I was nuts. The water at the park is dirty and the crowds are too big for safety. Last week a 12 year old girl drowned in two feet of water during a school trip due to the crowds and lack of supervision. So, we nixed that plan.
Instead, we found Club Cabana-a resort very close to our house. You can buy day passes to resorts in B’Lore. For $20 US Dollars for adults, $10 US Dollars for kiddos, we had admission to the park plus lunch and high tea. And if we wanted, we could add bowling, archery and other attractions. We just stuck with the water park. The facilities were clean and well-functioning. The park had three water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and a waterworks. Plus shaded little cabanas for resting. Perfect! It wasn’t five star luxury but everything was in good shape and running order. The kids had a blast on the slides. The food was good. They even made French fries for the kids. They came home tired and a little sunburned and I am quite certain we will return before we leave India.
We were the only family there on a Saturday. The place was rented out by corporations that arrived in large luxury busses. We though the corporate execs would be busy in meetings and team building activities (Saturday is a work day in India). But by lunchtime they had all moved over to the water park.
I have decided that male Indian corporate types are the bane of my existence. When my dad asked how things were, I told him “Fun place, but there were 400 corporate men there.” “Yuck,” he said. “They are the worst.” Indeed. My children acted far more mature than they were acting. Imagine a group of six year old boys. Or a drunk group of 16 year old boys. Total chaos and annoyance. I saw grown men playing in the waterworks area.–swinging on the swings, sliding down the slides. And while people may do stupid things like that in the U.S., if they saw actual children heading their way toward a child-oriented activity, they would step aside. And maybe act a bit embarrassed. Not here. They’ll elbow my kids out of the way. We encountered them on our Safari acting just as juvenile. Here is a photo of the kids trying to climb the nets and the men taking them over.
Mom thinks that part of their childish behavior might be due to the fact that they never had waterslides when they were kids. Or climbing nets on a safari. Even if they came from wealthier families, such locations simply didn’t exist a generation ago. I think it also has to do with being boys in a culture that spoils them rotten. In a traditional Indian family, the boy eats first, then the father, the mother and then the daughter.
While times have changed, the gendered roes in India seem to be the last to shift. For example, a recent Penn State grad acquired a tenure-track position in a business school here in town. Top of her class, great job, rising star in her profession. And all her family does is nag her about when she will get married. The pressure is so intense that she is considering moving back to the States just to get away from the pressure. The need to “marry off” a woman continues to persist even when they have Ph.Ds.
At the water park, thankfully the male corporate exec tended to move in clumps, so when they went to the wave pool, we went to the slides and vice versa. But they were obnoxious. And many were quite drunk. They shrieked like children as they came down the slides. Kaden thought they were hilarious. I heard two nodding in Kaden’s direction and saying “American’s are quite brave, aren’t they?’ as Kaden came barreling down one of the slides without a peep out of her mouth.
Worse than the childishness, they didn’t follow any modicum of safety. Not that there seemed to be any rules or at least no enforcement of rules. After riding down a water slide, they would sit in the pool at the bottom and float in it, often right in front of the slide. At one point there were ten men floating in at the bottom of the slide. Then a monkey ran buy and scurried UP the edge of the water slide. Ah, India.
I hollered at the “life guard” to get the men out of there. But let’s be realistic. The “life guard” was a man in navy blue trousers. The only thing he seemed to be policing was making the men take off their shirts to go down the slides. Women could wear whatever. Most had on t-shirts and pants. Some of the men seemed to be in their underwear. But as long as they took their shirts off they were okay. And the lifeguards/staff were few and far between. They let the kids and I slide down the tubes holding hands—something strictly forbidden in the U.S. My cousins and I got thrown out of an amusement park in Ocean City for doing just that years ago. This Club Cabana was mostly an unsupervised water park. Which is fine since we watched our kids closely. It was really fear of others making stupid decisions that worried me.
Todd commented, reading my mind, “The reason why we have such safety standards in the U.S. is fear of litigation.” And a lack of a justice system that would allow the park any real authority to throw people out/give many consequences for in appropriate behavior. I think the U.S. system is way too litigious. People sue for anything these days and we all pay the price for it. But India shows the other extreme—whither some fear of sanction there is little incentive to monitor safety issues closely. No wonder that girl drowned at WonderLa. And the park still keeps running. Nothing was shut down for an investigation. Is a modern society necessarily a litigious society? No so in many European countries where trust is much higher and community is strong. But with trust being low here anyway, I suspect that the litigation will continue to increase as the infrastructure is built for the justice system to enforce concerns.