So long India

Trip Start Nov 07, 2004
Trip End May 20, 2005

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Its our last day in India and time to reflect on the highs and lows of this crazy country. It's been a great experience, at times magical and then suddenly mind bogglingly exasperating, so India, here are three things we'll really miss about you:

1) The Diversity. The old cliche, 'its a continent not a country' holds true. In two and a half months we've seen a tiny fraction of what is here, from the cool mesmeric mountains of the north, through chaotic arid Rajasthan, down to humid and tranquil Kerala, the variety of settings, heritage and traditions is awesome.

2) The Food. Rather than the dysentry and rapid weight-loss we'd been expecting, after two weeks of 24-7 all you can eat curry, we actually needed to go on a diet. Provided we stuck to Indian food, it was all great (with the minor exception of the hyper-sweet confectionary, and the need to put 1 kg of sugar into every cup of tea).

3) The Colour. This is not a drab country, every aspect of indian life, from food to clothes and buildings to the landscape is an explosion of vibrant rich colour.

And of course, three things we'll happly live without:

1) The Pollution. Sorry, but India stinks. It doesn't take long to adjust to the smells, but crowded cities of up to 15 million people, many of whom are living in squallor with no sanitation, produces some ungodly sights and smells. Not to mention the traffic fumes. The noise pollution is also something else, car horns are used constantly, TVs, radios and conversations are played at full volume and no matter how picturesque the sunset, you can rely on a group of Indian teenagers to choose that moment to test all of their ring tones.

2) Hawkers and Gaukers. It will be a nice change to walk down a street and not be persued by a column of men and boys trying to sell you everything from wooden elephants to land-line telephones and for whom the phrase 'no thank you' is simply an encouragement.
Fortunately the retail tactic of shouting "Hoi you, come here" hasn't caught on in Britain yet. India has always felt a very safe and non-threatening place, but the staring and occaisonal groping experienced, even as part of a couple, probably makes this a different experience for solo travellers and neither of us would have wanted to be a woman travelling alone.

3) The Beaurocracy. Every morning we wake up thankful that our interaction with the Indian government goes no further than buying a train ticket or attempting to send a parcel. These two seeming inocuous events are wrapped in a thick blanket of red tape, compounded by the most unhelpful, rude and obstructive civil servants ever encountered.

So overall our opinion is we're certainly glad we came, but we're ready to move on.

Caroline and Mark
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