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Indian impressions

Check out my photo gallery of Northern India and the Himalayas.

A late night taxi from the airport passed through Asia’s biggest slums- thousands of people sleeping on the street, inches from roaring traffic. Welcome to dirty dorms and filthy bathrooms (“Bathroom IS clean, sir”), powercuts and pushy salesmen, mountains of putrid rubbish filling the street, and pregnant cows eating cardboard boxes and plastic bags.

I visited a chain of fortresses with great views over the flat plains. Buddhist caves with lovely murals.  The Taj Mahal, where I busted a Sikh graffiti-ing his name. Busy railway junction towns with waits for late trains. 45 degree heat in the Indian summer and litres of water, lassi, chai, juice.

Sitting with the Sadhus next to the river they and everyone else use as a toilet- you dont have to walk far without smelling or dodging shit. That was the first and last time I sat with the Babas, they are hideous creatures and best avoided. But its hard to avoid beggars, who pop up in your face at every stop, waving horribly disfigured limbs or malformities and tugging at your sleeve. Its business.

Quickly I arrived in Delhi. Walking in the main bazaar there seem to be hundreds of men selling electric shavers, and buzzing me with their electric massagers as I walk past. Sari and suit shops, every space is used to sell…everything. Cycle rickshaws float past…along with 3-wheeled autos, motos, cars, trucks, buses, bullock carts. A note on the traffic-its insane and dangerous. My latest bus trip gave a new meaning to playing chicken (with large trucks).

So I fled to the mountains and met my Aunt Sue, and relaxed in cool Himalayas with her friends and second family there. Lots of mountain climbing and visits to the sweet shop. But after a month there the monsoon arrived- floods and rain. So I headed to the desert, Rajasthan. Where half of all tourists to India also go. More lovely forts on hills overlooking town, that I climbed to avoid incredibly annoying people perverted by tourist spending. Constant “hello, you want something, where you from, whats your name etc etc” gets a bit much.

The food is incredibly cheap…and nasty. The “bread” or roti is delicious, as are the dairy products (must be all those tasy plastic bags). Unfortunately the dahl, curry and thalis tend to be oily, burnt and tasteless. But at 50 cents for all you can eat, it’s a bargain. And 10 mangoes for a dollar.

Travel is simple. Hundreds of buses and trains, tonight I have a 17 hour (I hope its not late!) train trip to Calcutta. And from there to Nepal, back to the mountains ro relax. Constant travel is making me extremely grumpy…India is a fantastic place for a tourist. Color, astonishing sights every single day and with 10 dollars in your pocket you are rich….

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