11 June 2009

Understanding India... Like Whoa!

The GangesAs I'm sitting here right now, less than 24 hours have passed since Kristen and I were in India. Now is probably a good time to write down some of my thoughts regarding my visit there.

Before I went I had heard many things about India. Dirty was the main adjective used to describe India as a whole. Sure, it's a little dirtier than the U.S. but maybe we're just over-clean. Truthfully, the dirtiness that did exist didn't really bother me. In fact it wasn't too much different than Thailand in some regards. The unfortunate part of the dirtiness is that it creeps into the food preparation. Countless times Kristen and I saw things that were done to food that would cause a restaurant to close back home. The result of this was that we were tentative when it came to deciding on a restaurant.

The next difficulty was with some of the people. Kristen got groped in Varanasi. Anywhere else that guy would be in trouble. In India, he just slinks off into the crowd like a coward. Plus, there are countless of times when you have no personal space whatsoever. Through a combination of staring, people begging or trying to sell you something it can get quite tiresome.

A great example and experience for me was right when we got to Delhi. Kristen and I went to go get some food at a very modern train food court. To order you have to pick what you want, pay for it and give the receipt to the person with the food. Easy right? Wrong. To pay for the receipt you have to shove, push, jostle your way to the front of a line with a single cashier who could care less about what you want. All the while everyone behind you has the exact same goal in mind. Get to the front of the line. Doesn't matter if you were the last person there. Shove your way to the front. No lines, no queues, just chaos.

On the plus side, there are many beautiful aspects of India. Most of the people are very nice and will go out of their way to help you out. Also, for me the photography there was excellent. In no other place will you see opportunities for captivating photos (I just need to upload some more). Since India was and is such an important crossroad, there is an enormous amount of history in the area. From the Taj Mahal, to the Red Fort, to the Ganges and so on there is a story behind each one. Those are stories in conquest, deception, elation and much more. What India lacks in modern convenience of most U.S. cities is more than made up for in the history surrounding you.

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip looking back. If and when I go back to India I'll make sure of a few things. First, I'll go in the cold season there. There is so much to take in while you are there and adding the pressure of dealing with the heat isn't a smart decision to make. Next, I would book a tour. I'm not a tour person, however in India there is so much planning which has to be done from a health standpoint that adding the pressure of dealing with hotels, transportation and the like can be very difficult and overwhelming. I think with those changes I would be a lot more satisfied with my trip. To sum it up basically, I'm glad I went I've always wanted to go. I saw a lot, sometimes things I didn't necessarily wish to see. I did a lot, something things I didn't necessarily want to do. It wasn't life changing, but it certainly was enjoyable.

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