India is not what I expected. There is a distinctive smell that is a cross between incense and smoke that is pleasant and not overpowering. It is hard to capture the feel of the streets. They are a cacophony of color, sound, and motion that can be overwhelming unless you allow yourself to relax and flow into the vividness of the culture. Cars, motorcycles and tuk-tuks (three wheeled, open air vehicles) all are vying for their little bit of space by blowing their horns while people, carts, and cows move in and around traffic. Here, driving is a creative art form where a good horn, good brakes, and good luck are the rules of the road.
The first impression is one of extreme contrast. When landing in the New Delhi I was stunned by how modern and beautiful it is. Then when driving in the city there is a tangle of wires that serves the communities electrical needs. As we walked into the beautifully appointed and modern hotel the power went out. After a minute or so the generator kicked on. When we checked into our room with every modern amenity I looked out the window to see cows walking by the road.
Is there poverty? Yes and sometimes it can be shocking. Surprisingly poverty and lack of the things that we take for granted doesn't define the Indian people. There is color everywhere. The women wear jewel-colored saris so the crowded streets are awash in color. Even the women who clean, wear beautiful saris. Working trucks are festively decorated as if headed to a party rather than to work. In comparison to vibrant India the western world feels pale and subdued as if we are living life in black and white instead of color.
There is a chaotic dance to the flow of traffic that can be unsettling as pedestrians, motor cycles, cows, and tuk-tuks weave around each other in a dangerous dance. The fright one feels on a roller coaster is nothing compared to navigating the streets of India. The Hindus, literally worship millions of gods. It is my belief that it is necessary to protect oneself on the road!
The people are very resourceful. With a lack of materials they have become brilliant at salvaging anything and concocting vehicles, called 'jugaad', for transportation. I have always been a people watcher but in India I found it fascinating to also watch these vehicles.
While I had expected our trip to India to be an amazing adventure, I did not expect the country to leave such a deep imprint on my heart. The people were kind, open and generous and can teach the west a lot about what it takes to create happ-iness.
Want to know more about India? Contact me at 800-882-9000/ 954-720-9000 or Blair@WorldCruisesAndTravel.com