First of all, apologies to everyone for the lack of blogging over the last couple of weeks. My days fell into such a happy routine that would have been incredibly dull for you to read – “Woke up, had breakfast, gave a class, had lunch, chatted with the guys, had a nap, had dinner, played cards with Jude” – but not dull for me to live. I had the occasional moment when it struck me that I feel so incredibly relaxed and happy here.
So, my time in India has drawn to a close. Can’t believe it’s been six weeks already, during which time I have obviously become a master at summing up a country of one billion people in a few sweeping statements. So here you go, have a few more.
Not surprisingly, for a country of its size and population, India is a land of contrasts. From the jewel-coloured saris of Rajasthan, to the slums of Mumbai, to the high-tech empires of Bangalore, from the heat of the west coast to the cool hills where tea is grown, from the absolute poverty you see every minute of the day, to the society places of those who ‘have’. Contrasts everywhere, which make it a wonderful, fascinating, frustrating, country.
My first few days here, I found it difficult to relax, and I think this was a combination of my being so wary of being a lone female traveller, and (mostly) being in a place like Delhi. It’s a hard city to like, though I tried very much. As soon as I was away from there, I found myself relaxing more. This was probably a combination of being with friends (Michelle, Gary, and Brad in Rajasthan), and later, in Bangalore, being part of a community where people were very much on my side. I think I’ve realised how much I need people while I’ve been here.
And the people, on the whole, are so very, very friendly. Their hospitality is overwhelming, almost to the point of embarassment on my part sometimes, but so extremely generous on their part. Wherever you go, you are ordered to sit down and have a cup of tea, oh and won’t you just have a mound of biryani as well, and go on, have some biscuits. Imagine Mrs Doyle off Father Ted, multiplied by a billion.
The sound of India will always, in my mind, be the car horn. Wherever you are, it’s used all. The. Time. The first couple of nights I found it hard to sleep because of it – two days ago I was whizzing through the traffic in a kamikaze tuk-tuk, and realised with a shock that I’d managed to block the car horns out. Either that or I’ve gone deaf.
I’ve heard it said that India is an assault on the senses, and I think this is as true a description as I could come up with. It’s an almost physical sensation. I don’t think it’s for everyone, and people who are more experienced at travelling than I say it’s about as tough as it gets, so in a way I’m glad I’ve survived it, and can tell the tale with a smile and a laugh, but I hope other places are as challenging and as fun as India and its people.
And the people… ah, the people. Suffice to say that, when I left the community in Bangalore this morning, I cried like a baby, and felt really heartbroken. It was like leaving home all over again (I’m filling up now, honestly, just remembering it). The brothers there are no longer brothers in name only, but have become my extended family, with all the joy and love that brings. If home is where the heart is, then India has become my ‘other’ home.
Tags: Final Thoughts, India, Travel