I traveled to India for 15 days. Even though it sounds like a few days, it was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to go to 3 different cities: Bangalore, Kolkata (Calcutta), and Delhi.
What amazed me about India:
- The wedding: my friend’s wedding was the primary reason why I booked my ticket to go to India. The wedding was an amazing experience. My friend’s family provided accommodations (and food everyday!) to all of us, and I got to hang out in the same apartment with my NC State friends. I enjoyed the henna, the shared meals, and getting dressed in a sari, and the wedding day. It was all amazing, and a experience I will never forget.
- My friends: I was lucky enough to be with friends during all my trip. I was never by myself during the trip, and that made a big difference! My friends were amazing, and took me to temples, drove hours and hours while I was sleeping in the back seat, and took me to their favorite restaurants! They made me live the truly Indian experience, and by the end of the trip, I felt truly Indian.
- Indian’s friendliness, their culture, the traffic, the noises, the mix of wealthy/poor: in summary… everything I saw and experienced was completely new and amazed me.
What I didn’t expect:
- People… people everywhere: so… many… people…. everywhere! Every place we went to was FULL of people. Most of them were locals and that surprised me a lot. You’d expect temples, for example, to be full of tourists, but no… it was full of kids! Even the line for Indian people to get to the Taj Mahal was miles and miles long. It was simply amazing.
- Flights are changed without much notice: our flight from Kolkata to Bangalore was cancelled for us, so we had to stay in a guestroom in the old airport in Kolkata. When I saw the guestroom, I thought I was not going to survive but it was fine, and we got to fly out of Kolkata the next day without any problems. It is experiences like that that allow people to have stories to share with their grandkids. Thank you IndiGo.
- India is cheap: I came back to the US with most of the money I took to my trip. Of course it helped to stay with friends, eat home-made food, but to give you an idea… a Uber ride for 20 minutes costs $1.83. Not even in Lima it is that cheap!
Some of the challenges I had:
- The poverty: even though I am from a third world country, the poverty I saw in India was something new for me, and which made me the most sad in the trip.
- The bathrooms: every time I would go to a public bathroom, I would high five my friends after it (and then apply hand sanitizer thoroughly to me and to my friends!). It was THAT kind of experience that made you proud afterwards.
- The food: I am not an adventurer eater. I don’t like to try that many new foods, and all the food was new to me. I enjoyed my friend and friend’s families food a lot, but I was always very cautious about the food I was eating. However, I had the best burrha chicken ever in the Old Market in Delhi. It was beyond words.
What I would do differently:
- Check in to your flight: given the unpredictability of the Indian airlines, I recommend checking in to your flight the previous day, and double checking a few hours before your flight to see if everything remains the same.
- Be in the same place for 5 days maximum: I traveled to 3 different places in 15 days. I’d add one more if I’d do it again. Everyone told me that India was a big country and it is, but I think that staying in the same place for a maximum of 5 days gives you a good taste of the place.
- Read more about their history before going: I learned a lot about the history of India, but next time, I’d try to learn more about it before going in order to take advantage of all the places I visited.
What I learned:
- All emotions in one country: India is the place where you experience all the emotions (refer to the complete list of emotions here) in one place. Someone said to me that there’s no place like India, and now I truly believe that.