13 August 2014

Namastē, India (Golden Triangle, 7-13 Dec 2011)

India isn't everyone's cup of tea.  She's plagued, they'd say, by chronic socio-economic diseases, sexual discrimination, lawlessness, abject poverty, poor standards of hygiene, political shams, street scams, traffic jams.... you name it.  But why, despite this, does she continue to attract millions of visitors each year?  Is it because of her unique and colourful culture?  The romanticism of the Taj Mahal?  Her delightful cuisine maybe?  Or perhaps it's because of her mystical lure.  Whatever one's reason(s) for visiting, it cannot be denied that there's just something about India that many find impossible to resist.

Personally I longed to see India because of what she also is; beautiful, diverse, cosmopolitan, mysterious, traditional, bold, unpredictable, outrageous, mythical, multi-cultural, shocking, sacred, in-your-face, wild, sensual - in short, the very things that make up every traveller's (as opposed to tourist's) wildest fantasies.  This is a land like no other.  This is India.  Allegorical and bewildering, yet with so much to impart.  Conservative and guarded, yet openly welcoming.  I fell in love with her from the moment I stepped out of Indira Gandhi International that crisp afternoon in the winter of 2011.

Hard as it may be for many to comprehend, I found it easy to like - even appreciate - India for everything that she is.  In the utter chaos of her nightmarish road traffic and through the incessant cacophony of deafening car horns, I saw a country eager to keep pace with the times.  In her smog-choked skylines, I saw rapid economic growth and job opportunities.  In the eyes of her needy, I saw a dogged determination to live happy through thick and thin.  Even with regards the oft-shunned issue of sexual discrimination, I sensed through my conversations with the locals a healthy, growing awareness of the need to make urgent amends.

How I manage to perceive India so differently compared to many others lies in my not treating each travel destination as a mere place, but rather as a whole new way of seeing things.  It's a learning process - one which calls for passionate curiosity, honed senses and, above all, an open, unbiased mind.  It is also part of the art of travelling.  Master this, and you'll enjoy India (and indeed every other nook and cranny of the world) as much as I did.  Namastē, people of the world, and welcome to mad... chaotic... incredible India.

Morning rush hour in Old Delhi
Midday rush hour in Jaipur
Evening rush hour in Agra
It's one big perpetual rush hour in these parts of India
An endless cacophony wherever you go
No seats?  No problem.
Whatever it takes; determination personified
Quoting our driver, Mr Singh: "In India, everything is possible."
Flower stall by night at Defence Colony, Old Delhi
Roadside fruit vendor, New Delhi
A hard life; but they are a doggedly determined people
Appreciating the exquisite bas-reliefs at Qutab Minar, Delhi
Evening get-together (Agra)
Laundry shop? (Agra)
Taj Mahal, Agra
Visiting the Taj Mahal; a dream come true
The Taj Mahal; absolutely breathtaking
One of the most beautiful monuments in the world
A hundred photos and three hours later, I still didn't want to go.
The mosque beside the Taj Mahal
Oi Len and I at the historical city of Fatehpur Sikri;
midway between Agra and Jaipur
The beautiful historical city of Fatehpur Sikri
Colourful trinkets
Tea at Khandela Haveli, our accommodation in Jaipur... bliss
Amber (pronounced "ahm-bear") Fort, Jaipur
Scenery as seen from Amber Fort
Elephant ride; the only way up to Amber Fort
Quite an experience
The main courtyard of Amber Fort, Jaipur
At Amber Fort
Amber Fort's main courtyard as seen from one of her many watch towers
Hawa Mahal (or Palace of the Winds) in Jaipur; intricate architecture
Sentries at the magnificent City Palace in Jaipur
The Ambassador; India's very own VIP car
Typical street scene in India #1
Typical street scene in India #2
Women going about their chores
Going to the marketplace in Jaipur
Alternative mode of travel; anything is possible
13th December 2011; at Indira Gandhi International departure lounge
Proud to have visited India before I die

Quoting American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, "though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not".  I've heard about India, and now I've been there.  And as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, I will see her again one day.

India has so much to share and we've even more to learn from her.  The truth is, no matter how much you research about or prepare yourself for India, she will surprise and amaze you.  So carry not any preconceptions of India with you and just go with an open, unprejudiced mind and feed your senses.  Do be prepared, however, to get swept off your feet.  Nearly three years on, I've yet to touch the ground.

Have you visited India before?  If so, do share with us your experiences.  If not, is she on your travel bucket list?


  1. Read, close your eyes & you are there! That's how reading this blog makes you feel! Reading this blog made me realise just how much you enjoyed your visit to India Vince. I followed your journey through India, on Facebook, but reading this made me 'visit' India all over again, I can almost touch & feel the sights, hear the sounds from the busy streets, smell the spices & talk to the people. Can't wait to read more from you!

  2. Thank you, Debi. Aye, I still remember you walking every step of the way with me via Facebook. It was good to be able to express to someone how and what I did, felt and ate while I was there. Hope you realise your dream of visiting one day. India truly is incredible.

  3. Hey Vincent
    Going through these pictures made me smile and proud of my country. I am so glad that you enjoyed here. Beautiful pictures full of colors and life. Hope u will visit India again soon and will give us the privileged to greet you again :)
    Keep up the good work

    1. Thank you, Divya....and yes, you should be proud of your country. I shall return for sure.

  4. You write well Jui.
    Enjoyed reading your saga about the Indian trip.
    Voted for you Jui. (vote No 2186) All the best :-)
    Here is mine:

    1. Namaste, Zachariah, and thank you for your kind words. Your country is indeed lovely and, God willing, I shall be back one day.... soon, hopefully. I have voted for you too: #307. Good luck, my fellow blogger. Maybe one day we will have the good fortune of enjoying tea together.

  5. I'm SO glad you linked me to this post!! This is one of the most heartwarming accounts I've ever read, and I love it. Especially the last 2 lines.
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback, Surya. Of all the places I have been fortunate enough to visit, India is arguably the one that amazes me the most. Everything seems to be in a chaos, yes, but I wouldn't have her any other way., to be honest I love India for what she is. Full stop.

  6. I can see how much India has impressed you :-) That really seemed like a good trip. Plan your trip down south soon....you will see a different world here :-) and I am sure you will enjoy it too.

    1. Thank you, Ami, for dropping in and leaving a line. Indeed I shall make best efforts to visit the south one day. I hope you're not affected by the floods.