Photo Credit: Gerhard Dirnberger
 Really? India? Oh you'll hate it. People crap in the streets!
 
That's the usual reaction when people find out where I'm going after we've announced we quit our jobs. It must be mind-boggling to figure out why I'm going to a country that's known for poverty, pollution and streets covered in cow dung.

Don't Go To India Or Else...
Photo Credit: Gerhard Dirnberger
My father had reservations. My mother tried to dissuade me. Random people just come up to me with unsolicited advice that ranged from tummy trouble to getting groped in the streets. A Danish guy I recently met even told me: But New Delhi is the asshole of the world!

Even Russell Peters (who is ethnically Indian) had to ask: Do they hire someone to shit in front of the airports?

So why in the world would I still want to go?

The dream of going to India started more than 10 years ago when I first read Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things. Ever since I've read this book, the vision of floating through the backwaters of Kerala has never left me. Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies followed soon after. Food is a motivating force in most of her stories. I want to see it, smell it, taste it and experience it all.

If India is going to be an assault on the senses, then bring it on!

After seeing the movies The Fall & Darjeeling Limited, my desire intensified. The landscapes of India are indescribably beautiful. How could this be part of Asia when nothing I've ever experienced is even close?


So I did my research and came up with a list of experiences I want to have in India:

1. Witness a traditional Indian wedding.

2. Visit an ashram and learn a thing or two about meditation.

3. Take a yoga class.

4. Try street food (and live to tell the tale).

5. Sleep in the Thar desert under a blanket of stars.

6. Visit Arundhati Roy's house and ride a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala.

7. Watch a traditional kathakali performance.

8. Visit the Taj Mahal.

9. Watch a Bollywood film.

10. Witness a Festival or a celebration, perhaps Holi in February/March?
And a few more things: I want to get lost in India. If I do get tummy trouble, then let that be my initiation. I want to go in search of spiritual adventure. And if I don't find it, getting caught up in the daily rut of life in India is enough.

Don't Go To India Or Else...
Photo Credit: Gerhard Dirnberger
Don't Go To India Or Else...
Photo Credit: Gerhard Dirnberger
There can only be so many things you can be warned of. The dirty, cow dung covered streets. The devastation and the poverty. The people pissing anywhere. Slumdog kids who can rob you of everything you carry. Hepatitis, Malaria and Typhoid.

But what about the smell of spices, jasmine and coconuts wafting through the air? Butter nan that melts in your mouth. The color and the energy of street life. The sun peeking behind the Himalayas. What about the majesty of the Taj Mahal?  

How come nobody warns us about these?

I've considered myself warned: Don't go to India or else.. you'll want to keep coming back.
Don't Go To India Or Else...
Photo Credit: Gerhard Dirnberger
Have you ever dreamed of going to India? Do you think you would love it or hate it? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


En route to Incredible India,
Sole Sister Lois


Categories: ,

30 Responses so far.

  1. Jagobida19 says:

    I find it very interesting and challenging at the same time. Most of all, I need to see Claire.

  2. i agree bebs. i wanna go too! it sucks that i'm so far from you guys. i want to see claire too! sole sisters, please make north america your next travel destination haha

  3. Myra says:

    It's my life long dream to visit India. In fact, I already have tickets for August of 2011. That's for two and the hubby still does not know we are going. :) But India has always fascinated me. It has to be now or never. Despite the many "nagative" reactions, i just hafta to do it! Thanks for assuring me that I am not the only one. :)))

  4. watched outsourced and one of them guys said INDIA means I'll Never Do It Again!

    in the end, he said let go of all your inhibitions and that's when you'll find yourself more accepting.

    embrace india lois! i'm sure you'll never let go... :)

  5. So excited for you sole sis Lis, looking forward to that wedding, it's one of the things I want do there :)

  6. Flipnomad says:

    ingat sa byahe lois... im sure you'll enjoy your stay in India :-)

  7. Edblogs says:

    I just watched Outsourced (the film and the series Season 1). very funny and all of us working in a BPO can relate. I want to go India because of it! :D

  8. Lois says:

    I agree on all points. And yes, I also hope I get to see Claire.

  9. Lois says:

    Hahaha... maybe not north america anytime soon. South america na lang? I'm sure game si Chichi dun. Tapos meet up!

  10. Lois says:

    Hey Myra, I forgot to mention something in the post. Everyone who warned me and gave me advice ended it with: Oh but it's so worth it! You're gonna love it.

    Do let me know how your adventure goes and hope you say yes to India.. or else ;-)

  11. Lois says:

    Sounds like a good movie monette. And yes, I will embrace India! I will!

  12. Lois says:

    Just got in touch with a couchsurfer who invited us to witness an Indian wedding in Jaisalmer. Hope it all works out para solid ang authentic India experience. Thanks Claire and Congratulations ;-)

  13. Lois says:

    Thanks a lot Flip. I have a feeling I'll enjoy it too. Challenges and all!

  14. Lois says:

    Uy... di ko pa napapanood yan ah... ma download nga ...

  15. Marky says:

    "Whoa, let the sun beat down upon my face
    And stars to fill my dream
    I am a traveler of both time and space
    To be where I have been
    T' sit with elders of the gentle race
    This world has seldom seen
    Th' talk of days for which they sit and wait
    All will be revealed
    Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace
    Whose sounds caress my ear
    But not a word I heard could I relate
    The story was quite clear
    Whoa-hoh, whoa-wa-oh...Like thoughts inside a dream
    Heed the path that led me to that place
    Yellow desert stream
    My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon
    Will return again
    Sure as the dust that floats b'hind you
    When movin' through Kashmir
    Oh, father of the four winds, fill my sails
    Across the sea of years
    With no provision but an open face
    'Long the straits of fear" - Kashmir - Led Zeppelin

    This song reminds me of what you will embark on Lois :)

  16. Lois says:

    "I am a traveler of both time and space
    To be where I have been"

    Thanks for these lyrics Marky. It's very timely especially after I had a chat with a Kashmiri couchsurfer yesterday.. I'm still looking forward to the experience. Long layover in KL ;-)

  17. Claire says:

    Lois, India is full of life, and it makes you feel alive in turn. Sadly, there are so many misconceptions about this country. I love it here and surprises come to me in many forms every day. I just climbed a solid rock mountain (small lang!) yesterday in the outskirts of Bangalore, and I've never felt more closer to God. I know you'll have the time of your life here :) Even if we dont meet up, Im happy to know you're here sharing the experiences this miracle of a country offers. Hope to see Bebs, Kat and ChiChi soon! Much love!

  18. Claire says:

    oh, and if you ever get the urge to eat beef, please don't get it from the hawker stands or small restaurants. You would see city cows grazing on garbage, even the locals warn us of them. Don't get any ice for your drinks, and only drink bottled water. Other than that, you can go feast on delish Indian food!

  19. Chiarabajet says:

    hey lois! yay for India! it's awesome what you've decided to do this, and with your best buddy pa. upon reading God of Small Things back in college and The Moor's Last Sigh, and sige na nga, The Mistress of Spices na din, i had that instinct to go india too. then i had a china-phase too, thanks to Amy Tan. but italy won me over in the end. hehehe. i'm sure you're having/will be having a blast and would be bringing back a lifetime of memories with you. anyway, good luck again on your trip, and needless to say, have fun! :-)

  20. off to india next month.

  21. Solesisters Weare says:

    Yay for your climb Claire. Yes, these temples on maountain really do give you a sense of spirituality. Looking forward to more of those experiences.

  22. Lois says:

    Thanks for dropping by Chiara. Currently reading Holy Cow. So funny! About a girl who went to India for love. Heard about your 'news' from Tanya. Congrats! You enjoy Italy and hope to run into you again soon!

  23. Solesisters Weare says:

    Good luck Marcus. India will make you smile, laugh, cry, piss you off, drive you nuts. Sometimes all at the same time. But it will be a great adventure!

  24. Michi says:

    I LOVE "The God of Small Things"!!!!! And India is totally at the top of my list! ;) GREAT post, and a great blog! I've just stumbled across it, but I'm IN! :)

  25. Lois says:

    Hey Michi, it's my absolute favorite book. I must have read it more than 10 times and I don't read most book twice. Thanks for the compliments. We will follow your adventures as you follow ours. Spain looks so fabulous in your photos.

  26. Mervdmer says:

    We have been to India. It's not exaggeration to say that it has the most number of touts per square kilometer in the world. If not for the Taj Majal, india would move a few spots down our must-go list of countries to visit. 

  27. Lois says:

    I have to say I disagree with you Mervdmer. I really like India. More than the Taj Mahal. I agree that there were many touts and it did get irritating to some extent. But I can say it's not overrated at all. There is so much to discover like food, colorful temples, and the people. We met so many nice people. I have to say India is a place I will want to visit again and again. Plus the masala chai!

  28. i've been to India and i say that it was all worth it - the dust, pollution, horrible traffic, expensive items in Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, etc. some people can give you headache but i was lucky enough to meet a few nice fellows. i would really love to go back there sometime and have an adventure to its other parts. :)

  29. Joftivillena says:

    Hi Sole Sister Lois! Jofti here, a girl who has never been to India but love everything about the country.  I have friends from the country who have been convincing me to go but the only thing preventing me is economics. I fear the same thing as the others because loving India from afar is quite different from experiencing it in the actual. My interest for India started after watching Lagaan, which starred Amir Khan. But I totally fell in love with it after watching DevDas with no less than the king of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan starring in the film. From then on, I dreamed of smelling and tasting their food, which I fulfilled after having my first date with now my husband at Kashmere in Malate. My love for it took me to the point of having an Indian-inspired wedding organized by yours truly. I had to juggle between having my dream wedding and the economics of it. But I think I pulled it off well. Its a good thing that I stumble upon your post about India. I will use the information definitely once my turn to travel India comes. It will be a dream come true, hopefully soon!      

  30. Kittyqua says:

    I'm 19, on 1st march I'm going to spend 2 months in India, Kolkata, with my indian fiancè. I am a bit scared of the travellin alone itself, but honestly I've been there twice already and unless you visit villages or such, yes, you will be stared at for being a foreigner, but it is perfectly safe and not as terrible as people describes it.

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