Friday, February 13, 2009

Having fun in India

We first came to India in 1997 for four weeks in the Northwest. When I got back to work, I was asked about the trip by some coworkers.
"How was India?"
"It's unbelievable, just like you see on TV. Animals, domestic and wild, mingle in the streets; people of every religion are engaged in activities, trade, transportation, and technologies that cross centuries; all generating waste that is left to perfume the air. By night, shelterless people slumber on the sidewalks, street medians, any kind of surface..."
"But did you have fun?"
"Uh... no, India was not fun. India is an experience."
"Hmm... will you go again?"
There was so much hardship, misery, and suffering, that no matter how specular the Taj Mahal, I could not enjoy myself. Besides, we had to fend off beggars, street urchins, touts, scam artists of every kind. Yet every single day, we would experience something that was simply out of this world.

Now that we have all the time in the world to travel, it seemed that we could no longer put off returning to India any longer. John and I thought two months would allow us to finish off the rest of the highlights and we would then be done with India, though we had serious doubts about our ability to last two whole months in India.

We arrived in Mumbai on Jan 16th, picking up exactly where we left off the last time and headed to the south. Two weeks into the trip I began to realize that I am actually having fun. Could it be
  • We are in a different part of the country?
  • India has made a lot of progress in the past 10 year?
  • We are different?
Whatever the reasons, I am beginning to catch the fragrance of jasmine garlands, beyond the constant assaults of human and animal waste that permeate the Indian air.
  • Even though life is hard, people do have fun. They go out to eat, have sightseeing outings and picnics with family and friends. They take their grandchildren to the beach park. They smile; they laugh. The temple festivals are simply amazing.
  • While the government may not believe in public toilets and trash collection, the public transportation, trains, buses, and ferries, are outstanding compared to the level of development (more on this later). It is easy and fun to travel around.
  • I love the food. Most vegetarians adore Indian food. In the past, John and I merely enjoyed the occasional Indian food. In 1997, we got tired of India food pretty soon into our trip. This time we cannot have enough of Indian food. I can hardly believe it myself.
If the weather was not getting hotter and we did not already have plans to meet a friend in Nepal, we would keep on traveling in India. We are having so much fun that we are already plotting our next trip.


Fast Eddy said...

"plotting our next trip" YOU TWO! What a life! Anyway, we're living in record breaking/matching temps, 75 every day. ACC basketball is HOT! Good to read your post and know you are well.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are having fun. We will definitely go to India one day even though I am not a fan of their food.