India wrap up

India Travel Blog

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(Here’s the first of my country wrap ups. I’ve jotted notes along the way but haven’t fully written them, and now that I’m home I’m just feeling lazy.)

If you’ve EVER wanted to visit India - DO NOT DELAY - THE TIME IS NOW my friends. (If you have no interest in visiting India, then I recommend you not go. hah. Don’t let me talk you into it, it’s not for everyone :wink: )

I’ve personally thought for a while, mostly just on gut instinct and a little reading, that India is on the verge of possibly returning to a world power. Television and articles I’ve read since then support my theory. They have certainly seen a huge middle class, and entire cities, emerge through technology jobs. Indian software engineers have been returning to India with money made in America to start new businesses. That’s not going to end soon.

If India can manage to stay in relative peace with themselves and their neighbors for the next 10 years, I think big changes will be coming. I think it’s archaic infrastructure will probably be modernized and a lot of what makes India the special, old, dilapidated, noisy, smelly place will be changed or gone.

The one thing that would conflict with my prediction is that I get the impression that they are just not in a hurry. India moves pretty slowly. They (even the rich Bollywood types) have all grown up with it the way it is and are ok with it. I don’t know how they will solve the poverty in the future, but it should be interesting to watch.

Costs: Accommodation is not cheap in Mumbai, but everything else - food, taxis, trains, sights - is. Plane rides used to be cheap but they have risen in the last few years.

Food: Incredible, and you don’t have to spend much to taste the incedible food. The only thing I’d recommend is learning food names. Often the menus were huge, not in English, and filled with so many names I’d never seen before, and I eat Indian food.

People: Totally nice, very accommodating, both in the tourist areas and not. About the only place I can remember them not being nice was the airports. I mentioned in this post how sometimes you get stared at, and it feels cold, but once you acknowledge the person with a smile or head nod, it is almost always returned. I neglected to mention the Indian man “head lilt,” when they talk they have this awesome bobblehead motion. I’d noticed before, but it’s much more noticeable when you are there! By the end of the trip I was starting to do it too.

Now a woman traveling alone would probably have an entirely different experience than I did. The differences and roles between the sexes is still very real here, which leads us to…

Culture: Indian culture is VERY complex, to say the least. I think it would take a lot of reading and talking with people to even begin to get a grasp. When I would ask the guys in Kochi about everything from walking in the street, to dating or lack thereof, they would just laugh and say “that’s the way it is, that’s the way we do it,” but would not elaborate on why. Oh well.

Hot Tip: if you go to Mumbai, don’t mess around leaving the airport, take the $6 pre-paid taxi like I did. Other cities you can find shuttles or buses, but it’s not worth being cheap there and getting a bad first impression (i’d heard horror stories.)

Highlight: Kochi, and everything about it, but the whole 11 days was all pretty amazing.

My stay was short and limited, only two cities/areas, but that was on par with what I thought most of my trip would be like. Mumbai exceeded my expectations on the whole. It was pretty intense, but not overwhelming at all after visiting Java, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Kerala, and the city of Kochi - wow! What can I say except I’d love to go back and spend more time in southern India. The cities are not built with a lot of aesthetic qualities in mind, but all of the charm of India there, surrounded by beautiful green countryside.

Later when I was the Costa del Sol, I was chatting with a hotel owner (seen here surrounded by women, haha what a character) who started telling me about his visits to India and SE Asia when he was a hippie in the early 1970’s. He’d been to India 3 or 4 times, and said the only place he would want to go back to in this day and age… and I guessed what he was going to say before the word came out of his mouth… Kerala.

Goals: India was one of my top priority destinations when I planned this trip. But I was mostly wondering if I could “handle” India, whether it was a destination to be endured more than enjoyed as it is for many. I learned that not only did I enjoy it, but I did not want to leave. Scary to think how I just scratched the surface of this enormous and dense country… I think I will be going back before my life is over.

I just edited and uploaded a video from a documentary called Street Musicians of Bombay, from the early 1980’s. In the middle it has a clip from the outdoor laundry I’m standing in front of in the picture up above. Check it out.
leah151 says:
Great blog and very informative! I can see why you liked it so much. It seems like a very exciting, colorful place!
Posted on: Jan 13, 2008
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