I came to India for the first time this January, to just one place, for just ten days. I booked a ticket back out there almost as soon as I got home.
Now, having just spent one month in India, it has served only to whet my appetite more. I’ve seen only a fraction of the country in this short time but have had some truly unforgettable experiences. Due to pre-arranged plans to meet friends I have just arrived in Thailand (also very exciting!) but I know for sure that I’ll be back to this crazy country…and soon.
By way of remembering my first real taste of India – its fascinating landscape, people, culture and energy… here are just a few of the reasons why I love it so.
1. “Five minutes” has so many meanings…
It could be thirty seconds; it could be forty minutes. You really never know. Whether or not to take off your heavy backpack and set it down… now that is the question.
2. You have many lives there…
How, without seat belts, helmets, or (observed) traffic laws to speak of, we manage to get around by whatever two, three, four, or more-wheeled vehicle, and make it in one piece…is truly a miracle.
3. “Everything is possible”
A phrase commonly used in India, which I didn’t quite buy into at first (perhaps because it’s too reminiscent of the awfully commercialised and politicised slogan ‘the American Dream’). But, perhaps it is true. Every day in India you see things you’d have previously have thought unfathomable (laundry drying on a freeway overpass; carriages packed so full, dozens of people cling on, half hanging out of moving trains; families of nine squeezing into a three-seater rickshaw; I could go on…). You never know what you’re going to see, or what you’ll experience next. One word of advice: go with the flow. Then magic will happen.
4. I feel like a celeb!
While usually it’s the tourists who want to capture ‘exotic’ locals in their natural habitat, in India, on many occasions, it was the locals who wanted a snap of me. I can’t imagine what they do with these staged group photos – usually big families or groups of friends surrounding me looking awkward with a big cheesy grin and making a thumbs up sign for lack of knowing quite how to pose for such an event… Maybe I will never know. It’s sweet though!
5. Fashion, fashion, baby!
One thing I did not anticipate about India was the incredible fashion. But if you love design, texture, colour and print as much as me, then you’ll be in Heaven. Silk, sequins, hand embroidery, made-to-measure tailoring… India has it all. And I bought a fair bit of it! It’s even more tempting for bargain lovers as there are many small victories to be had (although my bank balance may not agree). And you don’t even have to purchase to enjoy: India is a feast for the eyes. Just walk around an take in the beauty around you – from the clothes adorning the locals to the soft furnishings in the shops and restaurants. It seems everything has been blessed with vibrant colour and intricate craftsmanship.
6. It makes you feel alive…
You cannot help but feel alive in India. Whether in an overwhelmingly crowded, noisy, polluted city street, or a tranquil beachside café, India has an energy to it that pulses through your veins. I confess I haven’t seen much – and each place is different to the next. The laid-back vibe of beach life in Varkala, Kerala, is surprisingly different from the Goan hippy scene, for example. But something remains constant… something I struggle to put into words here…but which has sucked me in and makes me want to come back, when I’ve only just left.
So, India, adios, but not for long! In the words of Arnie… I will be back.
Love, peace, Namaste x