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PenGwen's Footsteps "I have roamed from the yellow river to the eastern sea and now all these thousands of miles are resting within me" anon.

The Half-way Point

INDIA | Sunday, 21 January 2007 | Views [1025] | Comments [2]

Th Half-way Point (early Jan 2007)

Well we are now at the half way point of our trip in India, 6 weeks have gone by and there are 6 more to go! I must say things have changed a lot, so I just felt I should write about it. First of all we are now in the south of India which is quite physically different to the north, not only in terms of climate and geography, but also in terms of culture, food and people. Here the weather is hot (although it was hot in the north too aparently it went done to zero degrees in Delhi now), there are a lot of palm trees and the food is less greasy! On a personal note, I feel much more relaxed here and I dont know whether its because the south is easier to travel in (as some say) or whether it is because I have changed. Maybe a bit of both I suppose! It just that now I feel less hassled, less annoyed and less frustrated with being in India. Before I couldnt wait to leave the country and now I want to stay longer! Before I used to get so upset or frustrated with people constantly trying to rip us off and hassling us on the streets (and yeah we did have a few bad experiences) and generally feeling like India was unaccepting of foreign people, even though I felt at the time that I wasnt a 'culturaly insensative', person and that I did want to 'learn' about a new culture. So from that perspective I thought that India had put up a barrier, which I thought was 'unfair' and hard to break, considering that I was here for the culture and the people. I knew that of course most people were hospitable and nice, its just we just hadnt met any! I also knew that that was partly our fault for making the mistake of doing an arranged tour and getting ourselves exposed to all the gimnmicks and tricks that package tourism uses to make money out of its 'customers.' So part of the reason why I 'hated' being in India was due to the fact we were constantly worrying about money (having blown on a tour that in retrospect we werent happy with!)and feeling frustrated with the restriction and annoyances that came with having everything arranged for us. For example, when we loved a place we couldnt stay longer, or when we wanted to get out of the hotel to explore the area, it was either in the middle of nowhere or in a bad area, subjecting us to all kinds of unpleasant little surprises waiting to jump out at us from behind the cupboard!

In addition, another mistake of this first half of the trip, was that we had no clear 'purpose.' We arrived with no idea of where we wanted to go and most importantly how we wanted to travel. We had done hardly any research (I for one, was expecting Claire to be the travel expert, considering she had just spent 7 months in Sout America - but the mistake with that was that India is NOT South America so travelling methods are not the same!) and we had not dicussed what we wanted out of the trip. So in Delhi the first day, when we arriving at the tour agency, the idea of having someone organise our trip was bubble of relief in the overwhelming pool of confusion that was India through our perception. It seemed that chaos had hit us and we knew not where to go and what to do, so being in that state of mind is of course not very productive and when faced with a sweet talking, sweet smiling man offering to provide 'order' in the chaos, one can only give in gratefully! But here was our very first mistake! We  tried to fit in too many places in a 'short' amount of time (who would go from Melbourne to Darwin without flying and try to visit all the places in between!) and therefore the first half of our trip  did not take off as well as we had hoped!

Anyway in short I could say that in the first half of the trip I was only enjoying myself 60-70 percent of the time, perhaps due to the fact that I had allowed the bad experiences and perceptions to dictate my overall impressions of the trip, regardless of the good things that we also experienced. But now we have passed the half way point and things are different...

Our first major change was having some purpose. We were going to Chennai to visit my mother's friend who was a dancer. We were going  Pondicherry to relax and perhaps speak some french (as it was a french colonial city) and then go to Auroville to lean about life in an 'international community' (see later articles). We were going to Goa to mix in with the party scene and we were going to Mumbai not only to take the plane back to Autralia, but also to do some volunteer work with an organisation that works in the slum areas of Mumbai. So here were have it, much better already  - we saw Indian classical dance and music concerts in Chennai, wetting our appetites for one of the most complex form of music there is. We relaxed in Pondy, settling ourselves in comfortably by frequenting the local Indian Coffee House for our daily fix of 'masala dosa' a huge savoury pancake with various spicy sauces and sipping coconut juice from baby coconuts. We have also been in contact with our volunteer organisation, to whom we have a proposed the idea of having a fundraising event for them back in good old Mebourne. They have replied with enthusiasm saying that 'no one has proposed such an idea to them before' and they would like us to visit all their projects, take photos and document their work. Well arent we quite sort after! But seriously I feel that maybe this is a way in which we can contribute to and make a difference to the issues which are so prevalent in India

On a personal level, we are far far less stressed about life. Not only have we got plans to 'spice up' our daily routine life in Melbourne, but we also react less to the oustide world here in India. For example, when annoying sellers try and make you buy their products we say 'no thank you' with a huge smile on our face. Same goes to annoying rickshaw drivers trying to rip us of. We saying laughingly 'ah you little cheater you, trying to make us pay double the price!', then as we walk off they come running after us with a new price and some with a smile as well. Bonus!

So I must say that the trip and really improved. We have gotton over the 'culture shock', we have more purpose, we are less stressed and more relaxes in the face of what is going on. And its interesting becauise from the very first moment we stepped into what we thought was the 'chaos' of India, we noticed that people seemed peaceful, oblivious in way of the bussling and crazy traffic, the hardships and poverty, the pollution and littering and all that seemed to be a generally cray India. At that time we knew not that the secret was to have inner peace and only then could you face the outside world. We knew not how people could cope with life here, let along how we could survive a 3 month trip. But we later learned (and some do say) that India works on you from the inside. You cannot come to India and expect it to change because you dont like it, otherwise India will 'reject' you and you will not feel accepted or at home here. Instead you have to change your attitide. Only then can you truly appreciate the beauty of what India has to offer.

Tags: Philosophy of travel

Comments

1

Hello Gwenny Penny! What a fun time you seem to be having you little interpid traveller you! I will see you in a few minutes when I finish checking my emails (hahaha to all you people who dont get to see her for another 3 weeks!)

Love ya

Claire Bear

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  clarinette Jan 22, 2007 4:23 PM

2

Come on Clair, you don't need to remind me that I have to wait for another 3 weeks! Damn

Look after her and both of you take care

bisous moro mou

  stav Jan 25, 2007 12:03 AM

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