Traveller anecdotes of India abound. People talk about getting violently ill, being harassed by beggars, the poverty and the chaos. So, when I get the learn that I have won a trip to India, I’m excited yet anxious.
I get my vaccinations up to date (a costly exercise). Instead of getting the rabies shot, my Doctor tells me to “avoid dogs”. Friends tell me to “shower with your mouth closed” and to “stick to vegetarian meals, only eat food cooked to a high temperature and use to hand sanitiser”. Salads and ice are out. Fruits that you peel are in.
Arriving in Chennai, I take a deep breath and step out of the airport. I feel exhilarated as my driver weaves through chaotic traffic. At my simple guesthouse, I figure out how to turn on the hot water, but as I don’t know what to do with the bucket and jug, I resort to Google. While at it, I watch an amusing video on how to safely use the squat toilets that I’m sure to come across.
Besides sightseeing, I wander street markets, chat to craftsmen and ride autorickshaws. I see the sunrise from a hilltop temple and get a mehndi on my foot. Masala chai becomes my go to drink, and I enjoy flavoursome vegetarian dishes. The hot air balloon ride in Jaipur is unforgettable as is the challenge of sleeping on a local train.
Falling in Love
India shocks the senses. There’s constant noise from vehicle horns. A range of smells (not all unpleasant) assault you. The dust and heat can be unbearable. Beautiful saris and garlands of flowers contrast against the background of dirt and dust. India is vibrant yet laid back.
I fell in love with India and its people.
I went to India with Habitat for Humanity where I helped to build houses. Afterwards I joined a tour at my own expense. This is a shortened version of what I wrote for another blog site.
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