Before we came to India my dad said to me “India assault’s you“. He’s completely right. Personal space is non-existent and would be impossible anyway due to the sheer amount of people. You’ll smell the nicest and the worst smells in the space of a few minutes and the noise of horns, dogs barking and temple chants will follow you wherever you go and you’ll forever see intricate carvings, chains of flowers, vibrant saris on woman of all ages next to piles of rubbish, black car exhaust fumes and cow poo.
India is fantastic.
My perception of India has been turned on its head. We saw beautiful buildings and met very friendly people. We ate great food (get me back to that paneer butter masala in Amritsar please), did some serious bartering and fought off monkeys and cows.
I had been concerned about being a woman in this country notorious for its poor treatment and respect for women. I know this is still a problem and met people who suffered these issues but my personal experience of India is of kind, respectful, friendly people who are there to help you, want to meet you and, most likely, want a selfie with you! Yes, people stare at you. They stare A LOT which definitely took a lot of getting used to and when you’re tired is the last thing you want but it wasn’t a stare of disgust, more curiosity (particularly as we were blonde). I think it really helped that I always wore modest clothing so my legs were always covered and so were my shoulders. I also always had a smile whether I was saying no to a request or offer or asking for directions which I think went a long way. One thing that was very clear is that the general population is wanting to debunk the stereotype and the image that they have across the world and they will often speak out and help you to make sure you feel safe. I have heard of people making citizens arrests when ladies have been harassed and we were even helped on a number of occasions to make sure we weren’t being bothered or putting ourselves in risky situations.
A saying that’s big in India and is probably more of a way of life is that “in India, anything is possible”. They find a way to do anything and everything as long as you’re flexible enough which definitely takes some getting used to. They’ll tell you that you can get somewhere or do something and, although technically they would be telling you the truth, it may be by measures or at a cost you’re not willing to make! Everyone was rushing to get to wherever they needed to go and no one wanted to miss out on anything which we noticed when we would see people join a queue or push in front of you suddenly to buy a ticket for something when they clearly hadn’t had an interest in it moments before. You learn to re-evaluate what you need regarding personal space and become used to never being on your own.
We learnt some great historical and cultural things about this enormous country and we still have a lot more left to explore here, particularly in the south. I really enjoyed India for its vibrancy and colour. People wore bright colours, beautiful saris were everyday wear and in Amritsar the men wore brightly coloured turbans. As the country is so big you can experience different food, customs and scenery all in the same trip and get whatever it is you want out of your time there.
We’re so pleased that we decided to go to India and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves even though there were times when we were fed up or needing a bit more space. India isn’t a holiday, it’s an experience and one I’m very grateful we have been able to have.
Until next time India, you’ve been a dream!
Sending love x