Suez's thoughts on India
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
156Trip End Dec 23, 2010
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I didn't know what to expect from India except not to drink the water! However, when we first flew in to Delhi it was apparent that this city was going to be different. I have never experienced a city so busy, so full of people and total disregard for driving. We cottoned on pretty quickly that we were going to be targets for touts and it doesn't help that this is actively encouraged by the Indian Government. To be honest, to begin with we were very niave and didn't know the actual "value" of money in India. Therefore, we kept equating what we were paying to British money. The value of money is a lot less and therefore there were a couple of hotel staff got tipped what they probably would make in a week. However, we tried not to worry about that.
India is a country of total contradictions starting with Delhi. One part of Delhi (New Delhi) appears to be completely modern whereas the old part (where we were staying) was a complete tip. Like we've said before don't know how they're going to be ready for the Commonwealth Games... Begging is treated as a matter of course, which is a shame, as eduction is free and is encouraged but people don't tend to send their kids to school as they can make more money from begging. There is money somewhere and you can see this from some of the houses in New Delhi. However, there is such a gap between rich and poor it's unbelievable. We also noticed this passing over Mumbai - the slums are huge but, apparently some of the shacks there have plasma TVs!!! The differing standards of living became apparent when we travelled to Kerala in the south of India. It's easy to see that this is one of the richest states in India. The houses are huge and hardly any shacks. I suppose it's the same in Scotland but obviously not to the same extent.
That's enough about the negative points. The positives for me were the friendliness of complete strangers (out of Delhi, mind you). Particularly in the rural villages we passed through on our Rajasthan tour. The kids are just adorable and seem to be so pleased to see you. The food was also a positive, although my stomach is only just beginning to recover! It was spicy and tasty and I tried so many different things. Fantastic.
The landscape also seems to be a contradiction - when we were travelling through Delhi and Rajasthan, one part could be dry and dusty and a couple of miles down or up the road would be lush fields and rainforests. Especially in Kerala.
Also, I had no idea India had such a rich and colourful history stretching back centuries. We found out about this from the many, many forts we visited. A couple were really interesting - especially Agra Fort and Mehengra Fort in particular.
We only saw a quick glimpse of India on this tour. The country is so large it would probably take months and not weeks to visit everything. However, although I saw some amazing sights (the Taj Mahal was the ultimate highlight for me) and met so many lovely people (Aapji and the many people we stayed with) I think I want to see other lots of other places before I contemplate coming back to India. I would recommend it to anyone as it is an experience but, like Andy, I think once was enough for me.