Tuesday, January 12, 2010

India: a recap

The other night, my last night in India, as I was on my final overnight train trip, I started to think about my time in India and what it was like and what I experienced. I think India is one of those places that people tend to either love or hate. Saben and Lin, two other RTW travelers whose blog I've come across recently, did a good job of describing what it's like to spend any amount of time in India. Of course, they spent about two months longer there than I did, so my experience was quite different from theirs.

India is dirty and chaotic and a million conflicting things all at once. And while I don't think I could ever live there, I really enjoyed my time in India and I'm really glad I went.

Since this is a recap, I think bullets are in order:
- I visited 13 cities in 7 states.
- I learned how to eat with my right hand and. . .
- . . .use the left hand for "dirty" tasks like taking off shoes and using the bathroom.
- Speaking of which, I'm very comfortable with squat toilets now - for #1 and #2 - even when no toilet paper is available. (Too much info? lol)
- The only time I refused to eat at a place, whether food stall or restaurant, was when a roach crawled across the table in front of me. That's my cue to leave, thankyouverymuch.
- India's countryside is absolutely beautiful and the fact that I was able to see as much of it as I did is because. . .
- . . .train travel is truly a wonderful thing. It's a great, inexpensive way to get around such a large country.
- My most peaceful moment was seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise.
- My most hectic moment was arriving at the airport in Mumbai (maybe just because it was my very first exposure to India?).
- I've always been clumsy, but I don't think I've mentioned before that I seem to be getting bruised and scratched way more than normal since I started traveling. My worst injury so far? I took a hard fall in Varanasi and had the ugliest bruise and road rash for about two weeks. Sorry, no pictures were taken to prove it. :-)
- The bumpiest roads are in Kanyakumari. I thought it might've been the bus I was on, but a look behind us as we drove showed that it was, in fact, not the bus's fault.
- My feet were dirtiest in: it's a tie between Varanasi and Delhi. In those cities, I for sure washed my feet before I even thought about getting into bed.
- Cleanest city: Bangalore (large), Varkala (small)
- With ugliness all around, I loved how the women were still able to add beauty to their lives (and mine). They are very decorative - bangles, earrings, bindi, bracelets, flower garlands in their hair, nose rings, anklet charms - even the smallest children (and babies) would wear bangles.
- You know you've been in India a long time when you cringe at paying Rs 110 for coffee - chai is normally Rs 5 and coffee not more than Rs 40 - and then realize that's still less than $3 and less than what you'd pay for coffee at Starbucks in the US.
- Not everyone wants to sell you something! I was reminded of this three times in one day when three different people called me out for not talking to them. "Why do you travel if not to meet local people?" they asked. They had a point and it's something I need to remember as I continue my travels.
- India gave me a greater appreciation for. . .everything really. My life, my family, my good fortune, my friends, all of it. You don't really appreciate what you have until someone less fortunate than you offers you what little they have and that happened to me on more than one occasion.

So I guess that's a wrap on India. I feel like I could probably say a lot more about it, but, well, I need to get my head out of India and into Thailand!


  1. Thanks aton for saying tht u enjoyed India despite all factors.....U look gud in salwar kameez......I hope u wear it more often ....:)

  2. Hi Shannon! Thanks for the mention!! Glad to hear you enjoyed India. It can be an amazing place. Hope you are enjoying Thailand (we sure are:)!
    -Lin from sabenandlin.com