My first trip to India six years ago was my first trip to Asia. Not sure what to expect I went the safe route. A car and chauffeur, posh hotels and ushered in and out of attractions. This time it’s different. Nine hour train journeys from city to city, okay hotels but lots of contact with the people and tons of excitement. When my friend and I settled into our filthy sleeper car yesterday there was a soldier on the bottom bunk with a machine gun! His senior officer then came in and the soldier was his bodyguard. He was the area security chief. No worries about getting our luggage stolen. Our train today caught fire! Yes. This is more fun and more exciting!
The Indian people we’ve met have been so friendly and eager to explain their culture and share their photos! At our first stop in Rishikesh we chanced upon a prayer ceremony on the Ganges and were dragged into the crowd by two lovely young women who made us feel part of the event. We spent an hour clapping and singing Hari Krishna. We wander around at night with the crowds and feel quite safe.
What is it about this country that has me spellbound? The fabulous colourful saris? The amazing food, the exotic music and dancing? The smell of incense, flowers and open sewers… The touts, salesmen and beggars. Just crossing the street is an adventure with cars, bikes, motor rickshaws and camels going in all directions.
We are now in Lucknow, city of Nawabs, birthplace of Urdu, where Mogul and Persian culture merged. A charming city, with friendly people and a shoppers’ paradise where things are cheap because there don’t seem to be any tourists.
I’m so tempted to go home, pack up my laptop and spend six months working here… After all for a translator, it shouldn’t be a problem. I can just see it… Work a little… Explore this cultural wonderland… maybe even learn Urdu? Maybe next year?