Where: India (Various)
What: Tour of Rajasthan
When: March 2014
It has taken me over a month now to write up a summary of my trip to India. Sometimes you just have to sit back and think about for a while in order to truly format an opinion. My opinion is simple; I love India. With all the quirks, all the crazy and all of the commotion, you still can’t help but love it. There is something so magical when it comes to India. In a bizzare and stereotypical format, It is almost like placing yourself into Aladdin. The colours, the sounds, the sites, the snake charmers- nothing fails to excite.
Someone recently asked me what I had learned from my trip to India. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question before, but my answer is this: To stop thinking nothing can surprise me. In fact, I think I was surprised multiple times a day. Some very good surprises and others more bewildering.
My trip started in Delhi, and for those who have been to India, or to those who have not; starting any trip in Delhi is incredibly overwhelming. You basically dive into the deep end of crazy. As soon as leaving the airport grounds, you join the mass crowds and vehicles. Your first realization becomes, “huh, so the concept of road rules are gone”. Followed by that is, “Will this honking stop at some point?” (Here’s a spoiler- it doesn’t!).
In that same drive from the airport to wherever you are staying in Delhi, you will likely come across a handful of cows on the street, garbage everywhere, tuk tuks swerving through everything and very likely there is some format of festival, so there is bound to be a parade. Delhi is just too much of too much. Take it for what it is though, no trip to India is complete without stopping in this elusive city.
I had spent most of my time in the state of Rajasthan, a gorgeous state, a MARVELOUS state as my guide would say. There is so much culture jam packed into one area, then again, it is India- everything is jam packed.
I saw the Blue City, the White City, the Pink city and everything in-between. I also knocked off a few good items of the List. I finally got my beautiful henna. I purchased an amazing hand-woven rug. Bought a painting from a famed artist in Udaipur. Rode a camel into the sunset. All of this, and I didn’t even see the Taj at that point.
Like many places in the world, I find many people just go to a destination to see the things they know about. I think the beauty in travel is to explore the things you know nothing about. I chose this particular trip and itinerary because I had no idea about half the things that were there.
In Jodhpur, I saw an amazing fort with some of the most incredible views of the Blue City. In Ranakpur I marveled at the incredible artistry and workmanship of the Jain Temple. Next stop was Udaipur, the city dubbed the Venice of the East, so much beauty and charm in one place. Jojawar was an adorable little town with quite colourful people, not to mention the Jutti capital of India. Pushkar was an incredible desert like Oasis, however oddly filled with Hippies residing, yet filled with so many religious and cultural undertones. Finally Agra; A beautiful cherry on top of my Indian sundae. The Taj Mahal is really more incredible than what I could have ever imagined. No photo will ever do it justice, a definite must see.
I came out of India so enlightened. It is really a country that truly changes your perspective on the world. I will be the first to say, it is not for everyone, and perhaps even only for experienced travellers. The culture shocks don’t really stop, but soon become charming. I have never been to a place with so many juxtapositions. You look to the right and you may see the richest of the riches. You look to the left and you see squalor. Walking through a market you may smell the most beautiful floral scents, followed by smells of sewage. You see a beggar pedaling for food, and then you see others bringing food and offerings to cows. I have yet to decide if it all really a big contradiction, but to witness it, be apart of it and embrace it, is a gift I will never take for granted.
I have long lost the belief that it takes material possessions and monetary riches bring you happiness (although sometimes can help). I often travel to places where what I would consider basic standards are non-existant. However, it is for those places I was taught how to be happy. Witnessing people with nothing, proving that life isn’t about what you possess, but what you appreciate.