India

I’m now mid-way through my second week in India and just a few days away from returning home; honestly I am so excited. India has treated us well over the course of our stay and the people we’ve interacted with are gracious and hospitable, trying to make us feel as comfortable as possible but still I miss home. My home sickness has never been this bad before and D and I take turns trying to boost each other’s moods. Last week for instance, when I was missing food from back home, D searched high and low for things that were familiar and in the end, even though I didn’t get everything I wanted (ice water, watermelon, and fresh baby carrots) I felt much better knowing he was there to help me. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m complaining about the food, it is delicious but it’s all different and my doctor, erring on the side of caution provided me an extensive list of foods to avoid and/or limit. What I can eat is restrictive, with good reason, but as a result it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that I come to miss most like iced lemon water which I usually drink by the gallon, raw leafy greens, and an assortment of fruit.  (I’ll write a longer post on my experience with food and eating in India soon!) I’ve been to Asia before but I wasn’t prepared for this country: the sights, sounds, smells, crowds, and foods; it’s been nearly two weeks of sensory overload. Still, I have no regrets about tagging along and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to see this part of the world and explore this country because during this time I’ve come to see and learn a lot.

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Charminar in Hyderabad

For our time here, we’ve been based out of Hyderabad located in the southern state of Telangana, and while it’s a bustling metropolis by most people’s definition and the fourth most populous city in India, it’s population is more manageable than Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi, a fact that D and I discovered first hand when we decided to stop in Delhi over the weekend, before moving on to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. From the moment we flew in to Delhi on Friday night to our departure on Sunday afternoon, my mind was buzzing. It was surreal to look around and see people everywhere, in places you would never expect, and it seemed as if every nook and cranny of that city was bursting with life (people and animals). The well-documented and significant population also shocked us because it felt as if a blanket of smog consumed the entire city. Honestly, I still can’t believe it.

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We didn’t get to see much of New Delhi since our time was limited and many of the attractions were closed off for security purposes in anticipation of Republic Day (26 January) and President Francois Hollandes’ visit to the capital but we did get a small taste of what the city, and by extension this country has to offer.

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The monumental India Gate was closed to visitors but even from our car you could sense the grandeur
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Elephant sighting!

By comparison Agra was much more leisurely and a very lovely place, providing us with blue skies and sunshine. We only saw two sights while we were there: the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort but we had a nice introduction to the city. If we had more time I would have loved to visit the elephant sanctuary in Agra and travel towards Jaipur thus completing the area known as the Golden Triangle but I’ll take what I can.

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Modern tourism: the Taj Mahal replete with tourists holding cameras and cellphones

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At this point, I realize that I haven’t told you anything that you couldn’t find in a quick internet search or by watching a travel show, and if you’re looking for recommendations or travel information, I’m more than happy to point you in the right direction. There are so many writers that handle the travel and lifestyle category much better than I can, and my travel stories aren’t an attempt to infringe upon their territory it’s just based on my own experience and is a process of reflection and journal-ing.

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Agra Fort: I knew very little about the city of Agra prior to my visit and the fort was a delightful surprise

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And what have I come to see?

I didn’t realize it but I’ve been somewhat complacent recently and India has kicked my ass, motivating me to get going again. What specifically, I’m not sure. However, I know I want to DO something. It’s not the spiritual awakening that some people experience when they come here but I do feel more motivated by having come here and I’m seeing glimmers of my old self re-emerge. It’s not at all what I expected but then again, what I’ve come to discover about India is that it’s never quite what you bargained for and there’s a surprise at every corner.

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In India, high volume traffic is a reality of life
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