March 1, 2017

Travelogue: India

We've posed questions to frequent travelers about the different countries they've experienced and the cultures in which they were immersed.
When we visit other areas of the world we find things we didn't expect, we grow in ways we never could have anticipated, and we take home with us a piece of the culture we visited.
Whether we expect them to or not, our travels always change who we are. Every fragment that is adjusted and shaped by seeing the world, brings us inches and sometimes miles closer to what we were always meant to be:
One people; one heart.

India, from Bekah G.

What did you expect to find that you did not see?

I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, so I had zero expectations.

Did you eat anything that you would later report to your friends as "so that was weird"?

The thing about India, is that you don’t sample food outside of restaurants that you know to be clean. We stuck with very normal, hotel-only restaurants. We did have a guide one day that took us to a local curry spot. Somehow, despite being careful, I still managed to have a full day of vomiting. If you don't get sick, you haven't really experienced India! It's part of the journey. So pack your pedialyte and embrace it.

What differences stood out to you the most?

Quality of life. Our tour guide took us through an area that we would certainly consider the "slums" of New Delhi. But for them, it was just a normal neighborhood. It was massive, and the streets were so narrow that only about three people could walk side by side. Certainly no cars (not that it matters, no one living there could afford a car). Our tour guide was taking us to visit his grandmother's home, which was large by the "slum" standards. There are about 16 people in his family living in a space of probably 1600 square feet. One sink, no mirror, and the kitchen the size of a coffee table. But I experienced zero pity - everyone looked happy.

What was your main mode of transportation in the area you visited?

We did not experience any public transport - we had a car and driver for the trip.

What was the best meal you had?

Curried chick peas for breakfast.

What customs do you think should be adopted by our country?

Hugely vegetarian culture, mostly due to religious Hindu beliefs. While I love being a meat-eater and would never give that up, it is nice to have less emphasis on meat-eating and more emphasis on vegetables and legumes.

What was the most interesting thing you saw or visited and why?

As a little girl, I was completely obsessed with Princess Diana. I collected newspaper articles and magazine clippings in a labeled manila envelope. Ever since her famous lonely photo in front of the Taj Mahal, I always wanted to visit. Although this may not have been the most interesting thing, it was certainly one of my highlights to see as it had been on my bucket list for 20 years. The most interesting thing.....the people.

What insights did you walk away with that you couldn't have anticipated beforehand?

People. The sheer volume of people with whom we coexist. So, you might know deep down that there is somewhere around seven billion people in the world. That's a lot of people. But until you've been in the middle of so many people, it's impossible to comprehend just how many there truly are. You can't drive around the streets of New Delhi. There are 15 pairs of hands touching your car at any given moment as you slowly approach your destination. Not begging, or banging on the car. Simply running their hands on the car as they walk by. I think maybe it is to alert the driver so that the car doesn't force into their direction? I have never seen anything like it. And I don't mean during rush hour. This is the norm.

Also affecting the masses is the lack of access to healthcare. While we can assume there are people in hospitals (out of sight) dying painful deaths from cancer and other diseases, what’s shocking are the people who aren’t exactly ill, but are walking the streets, completely deformed from previous illnesses they have survived. These deformities are their new normal. I almost could not stop staring when I saw a grown man walking on all four limbs with his back so far arched it would have been impossible for him to stand on two limbs. Then I saw more people with the exact same shape. It was mind-boggling to see firsthand rather than from photos on the Internet, YouTube or news stations.
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Posted in: Our Adventures

Tagged: Travelogues

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