To the Indian Subcontinent
I am a researcher. I am a planner. I study culture, cuisine, logistics, environment, and everything else that I can before I travel somewhere I’ve never been before. I try not to have too many expectations for any given place, but when traveling with a young family I want to be prepared for as much as I can. I’ve done a decent amount of travel and I’ve seen a lot, but nothing could prepare me for India. I will state that these are obviously my opinions about a country, but I want to share what we’ve experienced so far. As you can imagine, the moment we stepped out of the airport we were flooded with people trying to “help us” with something or other. In fact, we still are, a week later. Everyone has the best price to drive you to where you want to go. Everyone knows where the best restaurant is, and they expect you to pay them to show you the way. Shops and people on the street all make it clear they have things at a cheap price that you can’t live without. We’re sometimes surprised by just how far people will follow us down the street trying to get us to buy. We’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring them or shaking them off quickly, but it often does require being aggressive. In a country with so many people, this happens all the time.
Served with a side of crazy
This is a very quiet morning
There must be one trash can per one thousand people here, because we rarely see them. Instead there is trash literally everywhere in each city we’ve visited. We’re not just talking about pieces here and there, We’re talking pile after pile after pile of trash. Add that to the constant spitting and urination that people do, along with feces that I can only hope is from animals, and it can be very hard to look up and actually experience the city around you. On some days the smog can be too thick to see clearly anyway.
Just a bit o' trash
So THAT'S where I parked my cow
We’ve been looking forward to Indian food since we first started traveling in October. We even found ourselves eating it semi-often in Malaysia because it’s so good. Unfortunately, we just can’t get used to the food here. From almost day one it’s bothered us. We’ve been in the heart of some third world countries and eaten plenty under sketchy conditions and have never gotten sick. The only times I can think of that we’ve had issues were on a cruise ship in Egypt of all places and one meal in Hangzhou China. It may be stress induced as well but none of the food here seems to be getting along with us. Hopefully this will work itself out before we leave. Luckily Ethan has not been affected.
I think he likes it
Getting around this country should be easy, and maybe it typically is, but for us has been a nightmare. With a limited amount of time here, we’ve been trying to be efficient and travel in sleeper cars on trains. For the most part, I haven’t minded the beds on the train, but I don’t think Catherine has slept well on them. Even though we’re paying more for higher quality berths, it’s still no fun having to sleep on unclean sheets, and the bathrooms can still be scary. The worst part is how inefficiently everything runs. Since train stations are not ideal places to hang out, you’ve always got to figure out just how delayed your train will probably be so you’re not waiting too long. So far our record is three hours, but I’ve heard stories of much worse. There’s also been a people group protesting over the last week by sitting on rail lines, causing delays and canceling several trains in an attempt to get what they want. Who cares about all the innocent people that inconveniences, right? Now that you’ve raced out to buy your tickets to India, let me tell you that it’s not all bad. Far from it. The small part of India that we’re in alone has innumerable incredible forts, temples, mosques, mausoleums, palaces, and the like that are unlike any I have ever seen. The Taj Mahal ranks up there as one of the most amazing things I have ever laid eyes on. The way it was crafted, the beautiful white marble, even the love story behind the construction. The history of the rulers, and seeing these forts and palaces is unforgettable (in a good way this time).
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
At the Taj Mahal
Speaking of history, the rich past and culture make this land such a unique place. India is a very colorful land, from the buildings to the clothes people wear. The architecture (where it has not fallen to disrepair), whether carved from red sandstone or white marble, is each a work of art. We can’t help but be fascinated by the tales of maharaja and epic battles with fierce warriors. I can only imagine how it must have once been here. Some areas are really striving to restore things to the way they once were, so I am optimistic about where this country can go.
The massive sandstone Agra Fort
As we continue south through Rajasthan, city sizes get smaller and I am hoping we will be able to discover some serenity, along with some clean streets as we enjoy the amazing sites. Maybe it’s too much to hope for, but I am cautiously optimistic. At least at this point I believe the logistics here are worked out, so hopefully we can enjoy ourselves a little more. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted!