It’s true, it has taken me way to long, I won’t sit here and make any excuses, but for some reason I wasn’t ready until now. Life’s gotta way of deciding it’s own way when it comes to me, so I just go along with the flow. But let’s face it, you lose a considerable amount of credibility as a world traveler if you haven’t explored India at least once…
Finally, I earned my badge and I made it to India, although I don’t know why I still listen to peoples comments on travel because its never really even close to the reality. I can’t be a part of all these Facebook travel groups and online expat sites as much as I try, because I disagree with too much of it and the negative energy that they seems to generate is enough for me to avoid them like that annoying new girl in the office. But I am human after all, so some of it sticks, even though I really truly wish it didn’t.
I’ve heard the million and one shared stories about people who went to India and could not believe the shockingly offensive smell that hit them straight in the face as they walked off the plane and the travelers diarrhea that successfully attacks every newcomer without discrimination. Naturally one still makes their own assumptions and prepares accordingly, I arrived with my scarf ready to cover my nose and mouth and a dozen different poo poo pills. But once again, all these stories proved to be outdated, grossly exaggerated or just plain wrong. Now, I didn’t go EVERYWHERE in India, but I hit Goa, Mumbai, Agra and Delhi…So apart from Goa, you would think that the worlds greatest stench would surely be a guarantee in the populated areas like Mumbai or Delhi, but NOPE.. It smelled like every other airport strip, every other city, nothing special and nothing to be remembered.
I spent three weeks in this marvelous country and I couldn’t be held back from ordering every dish at the most local looking shops. My sweat was made of curry spices by the time I left. I never got any upset belly, I never got diarrhea and neither did my travel partner. I didn’t eat at the tourist shops and the fancy hotels either, I ate at the local street side cafes and the street snacks on wheels. I kept up my common sense and obviously didn’t eat anything that smelt off or seemed like it had been sitting in the sun for days, well except for that one curry. I was hungry as hell and that chicken smelt like death, but I didn’t care at that particular time and I still ate it. I just made sure it was smothered in curry gravy so I couldn’t taste anything else. I was hungry, I’m not the same person when I’m hungry. But the rest of the points above still stand and I think it should in every country?
Now on to the beauties that India has to offer.
Goa, Go, go, go, stop hesitating and just go! It’s freaking beautiful, it’s friendly, you’ll be at one with nature, you can do Yoga (and it’s not pricey) you can eat great food, and you can chill with the locals. It’s India but not India. I don’t know how to describe it any differently, I get that it’s IN India, but it seemed like it’s very own kind of people and it’s very own kind of a place. So just go! We did a one week retreat at a great little family run place called Lotus Nature Cure. I had no expectations at all on arrival based on the low price alone and all it included. We were both blown away at how relaxing the week was, the comfortable quiet room we stayed in, our daily massages and our Yoga classes. We were fed like royalty, except it was all vegetarian, but I get it, it’s a Yoga retreat. So, I guess we were fed like vegetarian royalty, is there such a thing?
Indian big cities, well they are what you would expect I think. Crowded and busy and hectic, but the options for everything are at your fingertip. The people are, well… like they are in most big cities (sorry to all my cities peeps, but i’m just not a fan). They are still worth visiting though, because the food is impeccable, the kids are everywhere and ready to say hi or give you a high-five, or a smile or a laugh and run away. Go see them, go play with them and go share with them. The endless noises create their own melody, everyone seems to have a unique rhythm, and the endless colors of fabric flung elegantly around the women walking through the streets could keep me captivated for days.
Agra is the city where the Taj Mahal is located. It is a city full of hotels and street markets mostly catering to the endless rounds of tourist that arrive for their very own view of the Grand Taj Mahal and shortly after depart. I recommend that you arrive at the famous ivory-white marble Mausoleum first thing in the morning, the crowds build up and they build up fast. Smoking, eating and writing is not permitted on the grounds so be prepared to have your bags searched and items ceased.
The Indian trains are the true definition of organised chaos. The stations are crowded, it’s confusing and the trains jammed pack with the endless bodies of rushing travelers that will push their way past with their 8 over-sized bags. Forming a line, holding a door open or assisting others are not social norms here, and good luck to anyone who tries as they’ll most likely be the ones still standing on the platform as the train pulls away.
At the end of the day, make your way to one of the countless roof top bars for a possibly cold or room temperature beer while munching on some mouth watering momo. People watch through the crowds below, giggle as the cows cause ruckus in rush hour traffic, invite yourself to a strangers table, talk far too much, about anything and everything and allow yourself take it all in.