Awakening in India

No one wants to sit through a long slide show….but here it is if you are game! A few of my adventures in India and the tales that stick out for me. I was the lucky companion of my “daughter-in-law” Tanya, who was invited to the wedding of two friends. The bride and groom were amazing, as was the entire wedding.

Here are a few things that will be in my memory forever.

The air. Tanya and I both wore masks, alternating between the black, fancy, I-look-like-a-bank-robber kind and the medical type, just because of the comfort (make that discomfort) factor. We wore them in Delhi, where a strong chemical odor permeated, we coughed and our eyes burned. The locals seemed to think we were crazy! (On the trip home we wore them because of the coronavirus outbreak)




The noise: India is noisy. The cars and buses and tuk tuks and motorcycles all honk their horns constantly, in spite of signs indicating they aren’t allowed to. The weddings are noisy as well, with constant music and drumming from morning until night.



The food: AMAZING. What flavors. I quickly became a fan of the method of little pots of things, scooped with hot bread. But I loved the Chinese food as well…much tastier and fresher than what I get in the USA.


















The colors: Everything is colorful. Clothes, buildings, trucks. The market place is filled with color and presentation of wares is an art. The wedding was beautiful, with even the servers changing colors of their jackets often.





















Transport: If you can balance it on your vehicle/bike/head/back, you can transport it. I saw a bicycle transporting twenty foot lengths of rebar, about ten of them!












Henna: I love it every bit as much as I thought I would. FINALLY got to experience the true Henna of India.














Electricity: A whole different ball game. Long learning curve. I was sure I had destroyed several surge protectors and converters, but happily, even when they spark and pop they still might work. The homes have banks of switches because every room has a selection of lights and all the outlets have their own switches. I never could memorize which was which and had to try five or six every time I needed to charge my phone or turn on a light.













Ceremony: A traditional Rajastani wedding is filled with ceremony. I tried to track the meaning of each, but soon discovered some are simply traditional and the groom simply does what the women tell him to do, without always knowing why (sounds a bit familiar). Even the house of the groom was decorated by a team, with flashing lights and more.
























Step Wells: These are extremely picturesque, haunting (and stagnant)…we saw several and I had the wish we could actually walk down into them, although they were often so steep I’m sure my fantasy was not reality. (It was generally forbidden)

Animals: There are a lot and they run around. Strays or owned, holy or feral. In the cities they appeared well fed and our driver fed the monkeys (pea pods shells). I also learned that families feed the holy brahmas. But in the smaller towns the dogs were emaciated and the pigs even looked pretty thin.






Labor: There are so many people, and those people want work. Many things we use machinery for here in the USA are done by hand. Construction was fascinating (there was a building going up across from our AirBnB.) Not any wood used that I saw, it was all marble and bricks and concrete. In the restaurants and stores you are waited on by a crew. Shopping for a dress, we had no less than five people helping us. It was explained to me that they work on commission and get a very nominal salary, but they were generally just very helpful and I didn’t experience the used-car-salesman come on at all.

Tipping: We heard you don’t tip but felt that the meals were so reasonable, we usually let something. It was only later that I realized there were a ton of service fees and taxes and the tip was built in. Oh well….as I said the food was fantastic and the service was too.








Selfies: It’s true. Lots of folks in India love to take selfies with foreign travelers. As Myra was blond and young and beautiful, she was in high demand, but all of us were approached. I laughed when my first request was from a thirteen year old girl. She didn’t want a selfie with me, she wanted a photo of me and her mother!








Tourist scams: We really only experienced a few. One was the “stop at the elephant sanctuary” which totally WASN’T the elephant sanctuary. (A web search showed that there is a true sanctuary in Jaipur)…it was a very expensive effort to get us to select a package: ride the elephant, bond with the elephant, paint the elephant, feed the elephant…all with different prices. We passed. The second I wasn’t witness to but as Tanya, Brian and Myra toured a tomb a security guard approached and invited them to see inside one of the locked rooms. He used a key to show them several areas and then demanded money.

Jet Leg: Yep, I wrote a whole blog about that. When I got back to the states the first thing Liz did for me (well, the first was pick me up at the airport, so the second thing) was fix me a big bowl of fresh fruit! I did eat bananas and oranges in India, but there were many times these weren’t accessible.

My trip was amazing. I loved the people and staying with a family in their home was a perspective most don’t get a chance to experience. I felt so welcome and wish for a time I can return the hospitality!