No country in the world evokes such contrasting images as India. Poverty, pollution, smell, violence, corruption, disease and humanity on an unimaginable scale, versus a mystical history, the cradle of civilisation, riches beyond measure, spirituality, forts, temples, religious icons and Bollywood.
I’ve spoken to many people since deciding to go to India and reactions have been equally disparate. Some people nod knowingly, look on with a degree of respect, and say “Hey Tina, that’s awesome, so cool. That will be amazing, life changing.” And then there are those who say (while trying to be polite but failing, and secretly thinking I’m mad) “Oooh, really? Why? I confess I have no interest in going…”
I am trying not to take a fixed point of view about India. I don’t want to expect to love it or hate it, but just let it be what it is. Of course, in my imagination, I am seeing bits of my holiday already, in that way where you envision an event before you go, then afterwards laugh, because your best guess at what your experience will be was nothing but a hazy, vague shadow compared to the richness and intensity of the actuality.
Still, I wanted to make a prediction about what I think my trip will be, that I might compare it to the actual (and laugh later). Here it is:
I was astonished by the beauty; overwhelmed by the people; delighted by people; a little scared by the hype around attacks on Western women; saddened by the poverty; excited by the old old buildings; worn down by the intensity of the energy; terrified of eating food that could lead to developing a new religion that involves worshipping a porcelain god, as the world falls out my bottom.
After many years of traveling I’ve realised I quickly tire of cities, love the outdoors and natural beauty, and am always curious (but not entirely successful) about meeting and understanding the people who live in places and have backgrounds so different from my own.
In this blog, I want to capture my experience as it happens, through a mixture of blogs, vlogs and photos. My pledge is not to romanticise the experience (as I often do in hindsight when I am writing about past events) but to be honest in the moment, including the bits that are not positive because let’s face it: travelling at the best of times can be stressful, difficult, tiring and overwhelming- let alone in a place like one imagines India to be!
Be prepared. If you know me in real life, you’ll know I’m pretty open about a lot of things, so this may not be a blog for those of delicate sensibilities! I will take this opportunity to apologise to my work colleagues in advance….
Whether you fall in to that camp of people whose very cockles churn and look for an escape route at even the notion of going to India- or you’re fascinated and wish you were coming with me (shush I DID ask all and sundry to join me!) I invite you to the India Experience, as I compare the India of my imagination, to the India of my experience- and hope that you do the same.
If you would like to check out my other travel experiences, you can find them here.