Wow, where to begin? India was such a fascinating place to visit. It far exceeded my expectations, mostly because I didn’t have many expectation when we left. I wanted to see the Taj Mahal and everything else I would learn as we went along.
Despite reading prior to leaving, I was still shocked by the way people live. There are the rich people, who enjoy all the finest things. A middle class who get to reap some benefits and then there are the poor people.
There are just so many poor people struggling to eke out a living. Not to pay their mortgage or car payments, but to actually survive. No homes, not enough food and no real jobs to be had. That was difficult to deal with and accept. People said “you can’t fix it, so you have to accept it for what it is” – that’s not easy.
Even more interesting are the children. They are growing up in such difficult conditions, yet you still get smiles. As we passed by on the train, I would sit there and get waves and smiles from the kids and I would wave and smile back. Sometimes it would be the whole family waving – I’d wave, but I felt sad.
I wondered what they were thinking when they saw us. I hoped that they saw us and the train as a bit of a boost to the merchants and the town. We did our best to present ourselves as friendly, appreciative people; respectful of their culture. We didn’t judge, we learned and tried to understand.
The architecture of the buildings and the various monuments was all spectacular. We have seen many buildings, palaces, castles and churches in our travels, but this was different. We’ve never been exposed to the Hindi – Muslim style buildings and I found them to be wonderful. The things I liked the best were the intricate carvings, the domes and the curved arches.
I loved the blend of people and cultures too. Arguably, my favorites were the Sikhs and Rajputs with their huge beards and mustaches. When paired with their colorful turbans – let’s just leave it at Cool!
Have I mentioned the chaos on the streets? Cars, trucks, buses, rickshaws, bicycles, camels, cows and people all seeking to get where they need to go. Horns constantly being blown as people try to merge, try to pass or want to go faster. I promise all who know the area that I will never complain about Transit Road traffic again.
And I will certainly remember the kindness of my new “girlfriend” – Aradhna. She made us feel so welcome when we arrived and throughout our stay at the JW Marriott. I know that it is her job as a hostess, but we thought she went above and beyond. So nice, so pretty, so genuine – Thank you, Aradhna!
Would I ever return? I don’t know. There are still many other places that I want to visit. I know that visiting India has prepared me to go to many other places. My comfort zone was stretched more than just a little bit and I liked it.