India is like an emotional roller coaster ride with extreme sights and smells, it picks you up, questions everything you thought you understood and drops you back down with a bump!
I first visited India 5 years ago and travelled from Delhi west throughout Rajasthan and south down the West coast to Mumbai and Goa, I loved it and knew then I would return one day. That day arrived on 9th August this year.
Over the past 3 months I have explored only Northern India; Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Darjeeling and the NE States.
India is colourful, happy, welcoming, interested, diverse, hot, cold, wet, dry, dirty, intriguing and millions of people are poor and live in poverty. India is on the move too and has been rapidly growing its economy for many years now, the young professionals work in IT and other industries, have new apartments, cars and drink Starbucks! You can eat on ‘the street’ for weeks for the money it costs to buy one Starbucks coffee and a slice of carrot cake.
If you can’t see beyond the dirt and poverty I imagine India my be hard work but if you can see that whilst there is rubbish & dirt everywhere and yes people do live in real poverty that they are happy and enjoy their lives it makes travelling here a joy.
The geography is so diverse, India offers something for everyone from trekking in The Himalayas, seeking out oasis in the desert, taking a boat trip deep in the forests to lazing on a beach in Goa.
There are times when India gets to me, when I have ‘delhi-belly’ or I’ve been asked for the thousandth time that day if I want a rickshaw or will I give money or……….. these moments / days don’t last and I again see the masses who smile and laugh and want to engage with me.
The roads are dangerous and should come with a health warning. The drivers don’t drive safely, they fold the wing mirrors in on their cars so they don’t get damaged and have no idea about lane discipline or the safety of other road users! In a way your safer in a town or city as there is so much congestion you travel slower. Add to this the cows, goats & water buffalo which walk, shit and sleep on all roads and you have disaster! Don’t ride a bike here without good life insurance!
On a more positive note, throughout India I see kids going to school and college clean and in immaculate school uniforms, the sight of so many kids all in exactly the same uniform going to school in a crazy country is great. They walk and more often get a rickshaw to school in the cities but in the country they all cycle and smile. I just hope a large percentage of kids go to school?
Traveling in India like many other countries makes me question the values we have in ‘the west’ so as I’ve only visited half of India in my two visits I may have to return to see the other half sometime.