Thoughts on India

There are romantic notions of India. It’s what I had in mind as I’m sure many others have. I thought perhaps most of the traditional clothing is long gone like other places I’ve visited. I was wrong about that as most women wore saris and tunics. Men mostly wear modern clothes. Shirts must have a collar.

But that’s where the romance begins to crumble like the disheveled buildings we drove passed. I did not expect that. I knew there was poverty but the landscape seemed unchanging. Did I see all sections of the cities? No. But where are the better areas hidden?

The amount of garbage everywhere is incredible. To have so much piled around and no action is taken is depressing. Technology has come so far yet people have no clean water or environment to live in.

Sidewalks half the time is just dirt and sand. The roads vary between asphalt rarely new and bumpy. Tuk tuks do their best to ride around the worst in attempt to keep the ride smooth and their vehicle intact. Tuk tuks can hold a dozen people not that you’d want to be a part of that and motorcycles can hold 4 adults.

The landmarks I’ve seen are mostly forts, palaces. They were abandoned for many years until recent times called for preservation of history. These places are not polished showpieces like in Europe but there’s beauty there.

There’s a tourist tax in more ways than one. As a pasty person there’s no blending in. It’s not the easiest place to travel. Keep your guard up. Know where you’re going and how much it is. Be firm and assertive. People may help for a price but you probably won’t get what you requested. The service is questionable. And I hate that I’m so fixated on these handful of impressions. It just was such a shock to me after all the places I’ve traveled to so far. I’m curious if things would be better or worse if I traveled without a group but still I’d want someone to travel with in India. Anyone up for exploring south India?

The food is great. But is it good for you? You find out one way or another. Most of the time it’s just fine. Or was I just really lucky? The menus list similar dishes but they’re not prepared the same way. Nothing is spicy because they know you’re a tourist. If you are curious, you’ll have to ask them to turn up the heat. Everything is covered in some kind of sauce or gravy. Not even salad is immune. The dessert is too sweet for me most of the time. I wished I knew about gulab jamun at the beginning so I could eat it everyday.

And remember, keep hydrated and rest when the sun is strong.

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