People always say that when it comes to India, you either love it or hate it. Considering that I decided to come and spend almost 3 months travelling around ‘incredible india’ without trialling the above theory, it is very lucky that I love it. Here are just some of the things I love about India.
As a necessity of life, food is very important. As a person who thoroughly enjoys eating out, food is very important. I have been able to indulge on things like masalas, chais, dosas, iddlys, sambal, lassis, pakoras, vindaloos, thukpas, momos, biryani, ice creams, coconut curries, achaars and pickles, local fish, aloo, paratha, curd, rotis, kebabs, tandoor, thalis, pulao, naans, jalfrizis, daal, koftas, paneer channa, fruit and lots and lots of rice. And doesn’t my waistline know it.
banana leaf dinners
I say this about every country I go to, but I do love the people here. The kids are curious, the women are shy and kind and the men are so eager to help. I especially love being able to capture a smile on camera, which is very rare as majority of Indians seem to put on a very serious look when posing for a photo, like the time when a group of young pilgrims ran up with extreme excitement begging that I take a photo of them, once the camera was held up each one of them looked as though he was having a mugshot taken. The people here make me smile all the time.
a rare smile
the pilgrim mugshot
India does colour well. On the streets you get to see things like groups of women in their various saris looking like a giant fruit bowl, temples and their idols painted in colours from a children’s book, houses in vibrant pinks or lime green, market sellers with trays of spices or tika powders, hawkers trying to sell you carpets and bed sheets in ‘many colours madame’, and they are right, you can buy a bed sheet in any colour of the rainbow or in all the colours of the rainbow at once if you want.
colours of the markets
There is barely a street that you walk down in India that doesn’t have a temple or statue of an idol to worship, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist. But there are two that I have come across in my travels that have really amazed me with their beauty. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is a Sikh temple that attracts thousands of pilgrims every month. In the middle of an ordinary, dirty looking Indian city are the marble walls that hide a man made lake which surrounds and reflects the gold plated temple and the hundreds of barefooted people in their saris and turbans who go there to worship. The second temple is in another dirt and ordinary city down in the south, Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. A Hindu temple built to worship the goddess Meenakshi, built with 12 towers of colourful and intricate carvings of all the Hindu gods and idols, like Ganesh riding his rat, the Gatekeepers, and a scene showing the entire wedding party of Shiva and Meenakshi. I could have spent hours looking at this temple.
a shimmering golden temple
rainbows of meenakshi
There is a god that is an elephant, who is only an elephant because his mother cut of his head as a child and felt so guilty that she replaced it with the head of the first creature she saw, there is a monkey man god who fights battles and a blue baby who is worshiped. This is Hinduism. Well, that’s not all that Hinduism is but these are some of the 330 million Hindu deities that are worshiped throughout the country. You can find carvings, pictures and statues in bright colours with the cartoon looking faces of Krishna, Vishnu, Ganesh, Parvartti, Shiva, Hanuman, Devi, Lakshmi and of the other 329million or so, all covering temples, home shrines, car windows and even jewellery. I’ll miss the vibrancy of Hinduism when I leave India.
gods on parade
Chaos. With the second largest population in the world you get lots and lots of chaos. There is always activity, always people, always traffic, and it makes the country feel alive. With this amount of chaos there are constantly delays and jams and I understand that as a expat living with it each day this would not be so amazing, but as a backpacker it gives me the opportunity to slow down and watch people, to smile at the kids and to have conversations with the locals.
That’s what I like about India.