When I set out at 18 years old to travel the world on my own, my first destination was India. Today, I’d like to recount some of the experiences of traveling through the country as a young British Indian.
Thank You Dad
I spent the first 2 weeks of a 6 week trip to India with my father.👨 It was a safer element being with him for the beginning of my adventures. I’m still very happy that he decided to come with me at the last moment.
On the Road
On our exploration of the country, we went to see:
Agra is home to the Taj Mahal.
The Golden Triangle is, by far, the most popular tourist route in India. It consists of 3 cities:
Typically, when one thinks of India, it is these 3 cities that capture the wonder of India. 🛐
It was overwhelming,🎆 the sights, the sounds, and the colors and going to see my father’s village from where he was born.
The experience was nearly impossible to wrap my head around at the time.
One of the places that really stuck out for me on our trip was Basti. Basti is a town located in the state of Uttar Pradesh and life there was interesting.
- No windows. 🏨
- No electricity. 💡
- No running water: people lived in mud huts. 🚱
- People still lived in shacks with no telephones and no internet. 💻
It was a very different world especially compared to what I was accustomed to.
Meet the Family
While my father and I were exploring the country, I got to meet some of my family that lived in the area. 👪
I’d met a cousin, my dad’s nephew, and another cousin who was the same age as me.
- He had no shoes 👞
- Wore an old shirt (one that you’d find from a charity store) 👕
- In his right shirt pocket, there was some popcorn 🍿
- His teeth were stained from poor health care and he was just…smaller. 😄
But he was so happy and so full of life.
It was both bizarre and wonderful to experience meeting him for the first time.
Along with meeting some family for the first time, seeing the Taj Mahal 🕌 also really sticks out in my memories of India.
I prepped myself for all the questions the tour guides could potentially ask– All the local questions and answers so to speak.
My Hindi wasn’t bad and I thought I could get away with a “strange accent”.
I didn’t take into account that I was 6’1…and dramatically taller than everybody else.
You Can’t Fool Me
The questions started: asking me where I was from, what I do, etc.
Eventually, the guide identified me as a tourist and made me get into the tourist line where I had to pay 10x more than locals. ☝️
You Can’t Compare the Uncomparable
Nevertheless, the Taj Mahal’s story is impressive. To see it compared to the Golden Temple in Amritsar is absolutely incredible. 😍
A Whole New World
In addition to spending 2 weeks with my father, I also got to spend 2 weeks with my grandfather.
The experience of traveling with my grandfather, walking barefoot, putting a bandana over my head to respect the Sikh religion…it was absolutely amazing. 😲
क्या आप अंग्रेज़ी बोलते हैं
One of the other standout moments during my travels was not speaking English while in India.
I remember walking into a bus station where I saw that an American really struggling. I was talking Hindi to the lady at the desk and it was an awesome experience to switch from speaking Hindi to casually speaking English to the American. He almost fell off his chair when he realized I was English and that I was able to help him.
It was a pretty wonderful experience and it made me appreciate the power of language in a whole new light. 🌐
India: Home Sweet Home
There were so many interesting and singular experiences during those 6 weeks of my life.
It was wonderful and heartwarming as well as heart-wrenching– it’s what makes India such a unique place.
It has a huge tourist economy but it’s not built for the tourist at all, which made it an even greater adventure for me.
My journey to India was truly a tumultuous experience. 🌟