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Kiara's Amazing Travels

India as a whole.....

INDIA | Tuesday, 21 December 2010 | Views [771]

Looking back on our whirlwind adventure through India I think of the vibrant colours, constant haggling, abundance of diversity, confronting poverty, the all famous Indian head wobble and never ending chai!!  India is a country that overwhelms all your senses.  The overpowering smells, some disgusting and others appetising that invade your nostrils on every corner. The constant blaring of thousands of motorists trying in vain to move as quickly as they can through the snail paced traffic and around random goats and cows that amble slowly through the streets. Indulging your tastebuds in garlic naans, crispy dosas, jeera rice, tandoori chicken and even the refreshing lime sodas and lassis. The impressive sights of snow capped mountains near Dharamsala, the Golden Temple at sunrise, the Kama Sutra temples in Khajuraho or the magical landscape of Hampi. Or simply being surrounded by an outstanding amount of vibrant saris, colourful turbans of different shapes and sizes, and of course the ubiquitous moustaches.

In our short six weeks we travelled from Delhi down to Chennai and experienced genuine hospitality and kindness, which contrasted highly with the preposterous statements, persistent and often annoying ploys to get our money. The haggling and attempts to pull at your heart strings are rivalled by nowhere else I’ve travelled to, and while we saw many people who genuinely needed help, it comes to a point that you realise you can’t help everyone. Even sadder is the difficulty in many situations in determining if people are actually in need or just trying to take advantage of our foreign appearance. In saying that, the poverty in India is abundant and confronting. Cripples, lepers, homeless people and a plethora of ragged children constantly have their hands outstretched and tins rattling for donations.  The abundance of amputees is also something quite common and unfortunately something you get used to. Men with mangled limbs or even no limbs at all, crawling or rolling on planks to move around. One of the saddest and most abhorrent facts is that many of these people have been purposely disfigured or deformed in order to be more successful at begging. As hard as it is to say no to someone, it’s even harder when you are swarmed by a group all expecting the same help.

Just as confronting is the lack of hygiene. Walking through the streets you’re endlessly dodging piles of rubbish, open sewers and ragged animals. It’s also not uncommon to see men of all ages using the pavement and sidewalks as toilets. We found the lack of hygiene awareness shocking and it was probably one of the hardest things I had to deal with, especially in Varanasi. The local people are completely ignorant or just don’t care that they are bathing, washing clothes and drinking from the Ganges which is so blatantly polluted.

India is one of the most spiritual places I’ve travelled to. Most Indians are deeply religious, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or Christian. You don’t need to go far to find amazing temples or ancient ruins which are almost as abundant as 7 Eleven’s in Melbourne (surprisingly there are no 7 Eleven’s in India much to our amazement). Matt found the Muslim call to prayer extremely frustrating when it woke us at 5am, blaring from a speaker right outside our window. I appreciate different religions but this was too ridiculous for me as well.

This trip was tough and challenging sometimes, easy going and relaxing at others but overall it was spectacular and far too quick. We travelled hundreds of kilometres on buses and trains – some disgracefully uncomfortable; one to Dharamsala that made us sick, one that smelt like sour milk and another that was home to scurrying mice. There were other rides that were fun and reasonably comfortable, and the constant calls of ‘chai chai chai’ and ‘coffee coffee coffee’ will always stay in my memory.

 

There are a lot of everyday sights that can only belong in India that we got very used to and may the paint the picture for you more vividly. No matter where we travelled in India the following were consistent throughout : children asking for school pens and chocolate (somehow they all ask for the same thing), men chewing and loudly spitting out bright red beetle (plant similar to tobacco), Matt constantly being accosted by groups of men for ‘one snaps’ and wanting to know all about him, me constantly being asked if I was Indian, the thinnest mattresses in the world at only about 20mm thick (might be a good idea to start up a mattress business), monkeys everywhere clambering over buildings, pushy salesmen and of course all of the men (who Matt thinks have homosexual tendencies) affectionately holding hands.

 

 

India overall was an amazing country to travel through and I only wish that we had more time there. We will definitely need to return to see all the sights that we couldn’t fit in. India is somewhere that everyone needs to visit once in their life even though it’s not a typical holiday destination for many Aussies. It’s made us appreciate everything we have at home and how lucky we are, while also opening my eyes to a whole new culture and different way of life.

 

 

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