Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 80, India

We are now on the final leg of our journey.....

Our final destination is of of course India.........despite the swine-flu alerts across the country.

Sita has decided to give us some information to help prevent too much of a culture shock when we arrive in India!!

She says that the number of people in India is what really takes some getting used to tho
ugh. There are just so many of them! They're everywhere, and you can't help but wonder where they all came from and where they're going.

Chaos is the word that best describes some Indian roads! A trip in a taxi can be a hair-raising experience, let alone trying to cross a road as a pedestrian. There's a system in place whereby smaller vehicles usually give way to larger vehicles, and the largest vehicles rule the road. Drivers weave all over the road, and overtake from both sides.

To actually cross a road, you'll have to brace yourself to walk out in front of oncoming traffic.
However, don't be too concerned as drivers are used to this and will stop. The best thing to do is go with the flow and follow everyone else who's crossing the road at the same time. The roads themselves are in various states of repair. Unsealed roads, roads full of holes, and partially dug up roads are common.

You'll find fearless cows meandering along all over the place, even on the beach. They're huge too, but quite harmless. Depending on where you travel in India it's likely that cows wo
n't be the only animals you'll see on the roads. Donkeys and bullock carts are also common.

India is not a quiet country. Indians love to use their horns when driving. They'll honk when turning corners, when overtaking, and incessantly when there are vehicles in the way.
The Mumbai government once tried to implement a "No Honking Day" but it met with shock and disbelief from many drivers.

The smells of India can be the best thing about the country. Evenings are a wonderful time to explore India's streets as the smell of fresh spices wafts up from the roadside snack stalls,

and people light incense to attract the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, into their houses.

Indian society is very close-knit, and personal space and privacy are foreign concepts to most people. However, Indians are warm hearted and curious people. The down side of this thou
gh is that they tend to stare and ask lots of questions, many of them personal in nature. It can be confronting if you don't expect it, but don't be afraid to ask the same questions in return. People will be happy that you've taken an interest in them.

It's likely that you'll be shocked by the filth lying around in certain areas of India. As far as Indians are concerned, the most important thing is to keep their houses clean. So as long as the garbage isn't in their house, they're not bothered. They're content knowing that someone else will usually come
and clean it up.
Most things get recycled in India, and picking through trash is one way that the poor people make money.

The glaring poverty and begging are the most confronting and hardest things to accept.
No, no, the whole of India is definitely not like it was picturised in "Slumdog Millionaire"!!

The contrast between extremely wealthy rich and the poor is very obvious and you never really get used to it. On one side of the street you may see palatial apartments, while on the other side people live their lives in makeshift houses on the sidewalk.

The scenery in India stunning and full of history.

The booming economy and flourishing development has made India extremely traveller friendly. The influence of the west is being felt across most cities with supermarkets and massive shopping malls coming up everywhere. India's middle class has grown considerably and has a lot more money to spend.

Most people have mobile phones and laptops, and the the Internet cafes are always full. Cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have become quite cosmopolitan, with an increasing number of modern restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Expect that it will take a lot more time to get things done than what it would back at home. There are inefficient processes to deal with, conflicting information that's given, and closures due to lunch breaks to contend with. Oh, and of course, the crowds of people!

It can be a challenge to figure out how and where to get things done. Things that make sense back home don't make sense in India and vice-versa. India's a great country for building (and testing) patience, however if you're persistent it will pay off. There's a saying that anything is possible in India, it just takes time (and a bit of money on the side!).

Demystifying India is a perpetual work-in-progress and for many travellers that's precisely what makes her so deeply addictive.

Ultimately, it's all about surrendering yourself to the unknown: this is the India that nothing can really prepare you for because its very essence - its elusive soul - lies in its mystery.

India will jostle your entire being and no matter where you go or what you do, it's a place you'll never forget.....

wow Sita, with that kind of introduction everyone is really looking forward to this last leg.

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