I recently stopped for a KFC in Madurai – yes, this ancient city is moving ever closer to the modern age with the advent of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
I must admit that for an expat to be able to have the odd taste of western junk food is more of a treat than I ever would have imagined it to be! Yet, inside, the restaurant is just like any other KFC anywhere in the world, you could be in New York or London, Paris or Dubai, Tokyo or Beijing and I, for one, am not a fan of the way that everywhere is beginning to look like everywhere else.
The thought of such globalisation saddened me a little, then I went to the washroom to wash my hands (there is a washroom in every Indian restaurant as the majority of people still eat with their fingers). There was a young boy there, perhaps 8 years old, who had just washed his hands and was looking for some paper towels to dry them on. The attendant pointed to a metal box on the wall and the boy frowned, a puzzled expression on his face. The attendant put her hands underneath and showed him how the hot air dryer worked. The boy’s face was a picture of delight and he smiled happily as he put his hands under the drier then withdrew them again and again, switching the machine on and off, on and off.
It humbled me a little to see such a simple thing bring such joy to a child who was only just beginning to come into contact with western culture, and I hope that such innocent simplicity is not lost too quickly as India marches ever onwards into the 21st century.