I went to India for over a month on business, pleasure and personal exploration a couple years ago. I went early with my wife to Goa, before doing business, and it was literally just like the movie, @ , as monsoon season ran late and we were the only people in the entire place. It was a 40 hour trip door to door to get there from Austin TX and American Airlines even lost my wife’s luggage. But the people were wonderful all the way.
After Goa I attended to business in Mumbai, Coimbatore, Polachi, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Delhi, Ahmedabad and etc., visiting, presenting and recruiting students, professors and administrators at the various IIT’s and IIM’s around the country. Even though India was just one of 100 countries that participated in the global social innovation challenge I designed, everyone spoke English and it was easy for me to see a broad and deep interest in social innovation and social entrepreneurship at all levels – it’s in people’s bones there, not simply a concept. The students, professors and administrators were all fantastic and incredibly welcoming to me.
I was also very fortunate to meet people of all walks of life beyond being a tourist, both by accident and by choice – from trash pickers to having coffee with the ex-CEO of Microsoft India, to priests in Pondicherry who had me haul their cart throughout the entire city during Ganesh Chaturthi festival, while residents came out and prayed, grasping their necks and offering fruit – it was a transformational, live and purely spontaneous experience for me. I wandered deep into neighborhood streets where people stopped me and were somewhat shocked to see me, but always helpful. I even got a great cup of masala chai for 5 rupees, native rates baby. I felt comfortable no matter where I was and the residents were just awesome in showing me things I’d never had thought to see… and also try to sell me some stuff, but fair is fair. And then I visited @ and had my epiphany of making a global movement to improve the world. His wisdom still informs my work to this day.
Yes, in my business I succeeded very well in recruiting many more supporters for the global challenge and we grew to over 350,000 – but that was the least interesting part. India awoke something personal in me that before my visit was only a superficial concept… regardless of all the negatives that might persist about India in foreign and local press, the people and the culture opened up wide to me and appeared as even more civilized in spirit and aware of it on a day to day basis than anywhere else I’ve been to date. I even ate everything and drank everything the locals did without mishap or indigestion… from filter coffee to the masala chai, refreshing lime soda, meals and thali, to homemade cooking prepared by friends at their home to street vendors of all types of foods and especially my very favorite – fresh coconuts every day. Oh yes! It was wondrous and wonderful and it all seemed just right to me.
(note: I’ve been eating omnivore raw foods for over a decade… and even ate raw meat while in India. Yum! No problems.)
So I must say this as a caveat to my experience: it may be well impossible to separate or expand my experience to others because of the following parable and American folktale:
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
I’ll be back to Mother India someday… preferably sooner on somebody else’s rupee, so invite me to come speak – I’d be delighted!
I traveled through the beautiful tropical state of Kerala.
Attended a traditional .
Saw the , the wealthiest temple in the world.
And visited , the southern-most point of mainland India, where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean intersect.
I’m sad that I was only able to spend such a short time there. Everyone was so nice and friendly. The food was great. I’m excited to return and explore the rest of India!
I met three families in India that took me in and treated me like an old friend. In Mumbai a young man I didn’t know very well helped me figure out how to get a cab hired for the day, and helped me find the best exchange rate. There was nothing in it for him and it took some time.
In Delhi I met two lovely ladies who took me to see the Sikh temple and the Lotus temple. They shared the day with me, later we had dinner together.
In Majorda Beach there is a gallery run by a young man and his wife where I spent many enjoyable hours, taking in the art, books and enjoying conversation.
I also met a young man in Colva beach who owns a nice restaurant. He asked me one evening how my dinner was and this lead to a wonderful conversation. He had been working on a ship once and come to Alaska.
On the bus one day an elderly gent sat next to me and we had the most lovely discussion of children, grandchildren and the upcoming mango season.
I could go on and on. In Udaipur I had the most fun with elderly rickshaw driver who took me to many beautiful stops in the city. Including to his friend the jeweler, from whom I bought a second hand ring for the vast sum of 1200 rupees. I love the ring and wear it every day. We had Chai and they explained to me what Republic Day was, as we watched a parade go by.
In Goa I went to a feast at the Catholic Church on January 5 or 6, I forgot, it was a big day. Lots of firecrackers and food. I was welcomed and it was fun.
Everywhere I went I met lovely, generous people. Beautiful little children. Some of them called me Auntie and let me be in a picture with them…
Jalandhar — So the first ever trip was with my Indian bestfriend. We stayed at his cousin’s place at Jalandhar. His family was very accommodating and of course understanding. I’m a catholic but a visit to the Golden Temple was very hard to resist. I was never able to take plunge at the pool just cause there are lots of pilgrims during our visit. I met a lot of people during my trip there and I got to eat the food they serve at the temple too. Food is awesome. I was able to visit a university too – Lovely Professional University. The amenities wow! I could study in a university like that everyone was so nice and polite though they were always intrigued why I’m checking out their university.
Agra — I was able to visit the Taj Mahal a majestic place. I’m actually in awe and was busy taking up pictures about the structure and beauty. One of the reasons why I fell in love with India. A quick stop at the Agra Fort also known as the Red Fort. Met a lot of rickshaw drivers who tried their best to communicate in English.
Goa – Oh that place. I simply loved it. The palm-fringed beaches, the festive mood, the churches and temples, and of course a certain beach named after me. Not that I’m a mermaid but come on anyone would love to just stay there and have so much fun. The place brings so much of the Portuguese vibe. And what happens in Goa stays in Goa. I love the churches there I never missed my religion when I was vacationing there just cause I can still here masses. The best place ever.. AWESOME is not even enough to describe it.. Manish, CT, Vikramjeet, Payal, Lata, Ashish, Rujhun — I miss you guys. I hope to see you again on my next visit! I would love to sprawl and stare at skies at night with you all and probably get to wear a swimsuit next time. 🙂
Jaipur – never been into a history ride just like what I’ve experienced in the Pink City. Thresholds and forts are everywhere. I personally enjoyed the night trip we had at the forts here’s a few to name Amber Fort, Sheesh Mahal (a palace made of glass), Ganesh Pole (which I don’t recognized as a God but later on knew who he really was thanks to this one guy who told me the story of Lord Ganesh). I was able to again visit a university there Amity jaipur which later on brought sadness and anger to one of my certain trips.
Lucknow — the city with loads of CCTVs, never seen a place so full of it. I spent my first Holi at that place. Stayed in another house of my bestfriend’s relative. From what I can remember there are lots of British buildings in Lucknow. A lot of recreational parks too and the mangoes! Oh gosh. Sweet ripe yellow mangoes. There’s also the largest hall in Asia (I forgot the name. Sorry.) but from what Aunt Payal said it doesn’t have any external support from wood even iron beams. I got to jog at Lohia Park and watch live recitals, and that manmade lake. People from that place looks so professional though. I can’t even forget the wide variety of Kebabs! Love Kebab!!! 😀
Mumbai — super modern city. Though I went there for business purposes. I got to visit Mumbai Port and another port *again I forgot the name I’m sorry, I think it’s Nehru Port? Or something sorry guys* Thanks to the people from a certain client and a few police escorts to guide me all throughout that very busy day. Side trip to see the famous gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel. Got to visit St. Thomas Cathedral as well with a good friend of mine Rahul and his fiancee Nikita. And visited Juhu Beach in the hope of seeing some Bollywood celebrities. (Hrithik Roshan to be exact hahaha!) but nope. I didn’t get to see any celebrity during my Mumbai trip.
I’ve been to New Delhi and Kochin too both for business and vacation purposes.
People in India are amazing. My friends from all over India are all inspiring and career driven people. The places I’ve visited I’ll always cherish. The culture and the saris I wore will always be remembered. The food – oh the food will always hunt my tastebuds.
I will update this next time. Incredible India! ❤
**thank you for all the upvotes, clearly I’ve enjoyed my stay there and I am looking forward for my next adventure in India, I’m still planning and will go and explore more of South India. More friends to meet, more food to eat, and more memories to create and more saris to wear!
1. Overpaying and always getting my money back. I witnessed this happen quite often with foreigners and Indians, and I was guilty of it a couple times myself with the foreign currency. I would overpay, and I would always be corrected. One restaurant owner ran out of the restaurant to catch the European lady who overpaid by nearly 900 rupees.
2. THE KINDNESS.
3. the genuine purpose and interest behind words. in general, when an Indian asks “how are you today?” – they really want to know vs. when an American asks “how are you today?” – they usually are not even listening.
4. THE HELPFULNESS.
5. GENEROSITY. No matter where I went in India, I was offered a tea, meals, advice – all without expecting anything in return. I was invited to several meals in people’s homes – all whom were strangers at first. I was offered rides (as I spent all my time in India walking.) Some places were more kind than others, but overall, no matter where I went, I was invited into homes.
6. HOSPITALITY. There is something to be said about Indian (and perhaps Asian, in general) hospitality. I suppose that goes in line with generosity, but it also goes with the belief that I genuinely feel that Indians want foreigners to have a good time visiting their country. At least, this is the impression I received from the several kind people who hosted me during my time.
Steve Jobs went to India. He came back and, eventually, invented the iPod and, more importantly, the iPhone.
I’ve never been to India but I’ve had first hand accounts from friends and family. Everyone says it’s a magical place and that I should go. So maybe I will 🙂
Seeing wild elephants in the Kerala province was awesome.
Taking an overnight camel safari, sleeping under the stars in the sand dunes was incredible too.
Like everyone else whose been through India, enduring the long train journeys are a rite of passage.
On the other hand, I’ve seen cars not moving for ambulances and been there during the monsoon season which reminded me of the UK, but a 10 x’s worse 🙂
Overall, thumbs up! We are actually planning to visit Mumbai and Jaipur next month and potentially weighing up a move there towards the end of this year.
He works part time jobs in the US like waiting tables or as helper in shops for 8 months every year, saves as much money as he can so that for the remaining 4 months he can come to Rishikesh. In Rishikesh he works as a rafting guide with the same company every year. And when returning back,
He spends all his money on buying second hand books from delhi and as much Thums-up as he is allowed.
Plus he took an active interest in Indian politics.
Can I stay with anyone in new Delhi please ?
Ancient Monuments are just make them awe and make them know how rich the Indian heritage is.
Different languages at different place and still they all are Hindi. They know how we unite with patriotism.