Everyone said we were crazy to take a trip to India. “Why would you want to take a trip to INDIA?” they said. It’s nasty, it’s dirty, it’s full of beggars! Well, it IS that but it’s also so much more.
“Incredible India” is a land of friendly people who will accommodate most any wish if you just ask. It is, not surprisingly, a land of contrasts, especially because each state has its own distinct language and none resemble the other. From lush green mountainous terrain to desert-like plains and hills to gorgeous tea and spice plantations as far as the eye can see to Venice-like canal backwaters.
It is also said that no one does ‘hospitality’ like India’s people and this too is true. During our trip to India, the service was, at times, over-the-top for us.
But India is mostly a veritable assault on the senses.
- Constantly honking car/bus/motorcycle/tuk tuk/rickshaw horns
- Birds crowing, tweeting, trilling, fighting, chirping, honking, cooing… all VERY loudly
- Foreign languages – Mizzo, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalem, Timal, Marathi, plus German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, et.al.
- People yelling whether angry or just discoursing
- Stray dogs, EVERYWHERE, barking up a storm (surprisingly, the cows walking around the streets weren’t noisy…no mooing from them)
- Unwashed bodies…in the planes, on the streets, in the hotels…you get my drift
- Curries and other lovely spices
- Incense (reminds me of my hippie teenage days)
- Subtle cologne of the guy beside me on the plane
- Filth, whether the ever-present garbage on the street, raw sewage flowing next to the sidewalks, or cow and other dung
- Overpoweringly stale urine in the public restrooms (almost to a one)
- Pure mountain air of the hilly tea and spice plantations
- Rose and other petals that decorated our rooms and some of our dinner plates
- Freshly baking or frying indian bread – paratha, naan, chapati, roti, pappadom – yum!
- Animals everywhere, especially in the middle of even the busiest roads – cows, goats, dogs, camels, even elephants
- Terrifying traffic: cars, busses, motorcycles, bikes, ricksaws, tuk tuks, animals all jamming together into the road, sometimes 6 or 7 abroad on a two-lane road
- Beautiful dark eyes of the children
- Homeless and beggars…too sad to describe and oh-so-much worse than in the U.S.
- Colorful saris – all red, coral, pink, purple, orange, bright yellow…not a one in earth tones or muted colors
- Misty hills like in “Gorillas in the Mist”
- Beautifully carved temples, shrines and other buildings, the Taj Mahal being a true masterpiece of inlaid stones like no other I’ve ever seen
- Women walking with “head baskets” containing the evening’s or day’s firewood, milk, leaves, etc.
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- Cloyingly sweet desserts, thick with sugar, honey and other sweeteners
- Spicy masala chai, a wonderful tea made with a heavenly mix of spices and real milk
- Curries of all kinds, some hot, some mild, all tasty
- Freshly squeezed juices of all kinds – mango, watermelon, apple, kiwi – and the yoghurt drinks they make with them (lassies)
- Fresh spices in the food or drink – basil, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and others in clever combinations
- Eating with your hands, no matter how gooey the food
- Jostling and bumping while shopping at the marketplace, packed into tiny sidewalks like sardines (think super amped up bargain basement shopping)
- Stares boring into us from curious schoolkids to families who couldn’t help themselves (we posed for lots of photos and selfies with these people who clearly viewed us as oddities)
- Frenetic Indians crowding to board and disembark flights…they say there is nothing to match this free-for-all like in India
In short, the naysayers were very wrong, though it is not travel for the faint of heart as the culture, food, customs, sights, etc. are SO much different from here. But, if you can get into an adventure mindset, I would highly recommend a trip to India as the education of a lifetime.