This is a guest post from Emma Holliday on India. I’ve yet to visit India and honestly, I am not sure I want to. It continues to rise and fall on my ‘travel list’ for various reasons. What do you think? Have you been? Here’s Emma’s take on how hard it is to describe:
Frequent travelers will probably agree that “how was your trip?” is a difficult question to answer. Often the questioner will be satisfied by a response like, “oh, I loved [insert lovable place here],” but I don’t enjoy giving vague answers. And then, of course, some trips are harder to describe than others. Last month, I spent three weeks traveling around northwest India on a tour organized by Wandering Earl, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had a more difficult time summing up an experience.
Lisa even emailed me asking me to describe India in one sentence and I completely ignored her question because I just didn’t have an answer (Sorry Lisa!).
Maybe I’m the only traveler who struggles with this. Maybe I’m just not a succinct person. Maybe India refuses to be described in brief. Maybe I should get on with it and tell you something about my trip?
India was loud and crowded and there were days when walking down the street amazed me, and days when it overwhelmed me. Sometimes the autorickshaw drivers weaved in and out of traffic so recklessly that I gasped audibly. I used to make fun of my mother for doing this when she was startled, but apparently, I’ve now picked up the habit.
I witnessed beautiful, sacred moments — a family setting a boat made of banana leaves and filled with flowers adrift on the Ganges River. And I witnessed beautiful, profane moments — a monk walking down the street with his dog. And sometimes moments refused to be just one or the other — my tour group was enjoying lassis topped with fresh fruit and nuts when a group of men walked by carrying a body wrapped in an orange shroud down to the river to be cremated.
Traffic in India really does stop for cows, although not everyone reveres them and I saw more than one person smack the animals to get them to move. I found out monkeys look cute from a distance, but have shriveled, sly faces when you get closer. I even saw an elephant on a street corner in New Delhi, but I was so shocked I didn’t get a photograph.
I saw the most iconic building in India, and it’s as beautiful as you’ve always heard. It’s also as full of tourists as you’ve always heard, but that shouldn’t deter you.
Sometimes India made me laugh. Sometimes India made me think. On more than one occasion, India made me sick. Over the course of my trip, I took nearly 2,000 photos of architecture, people, food, animals – beautiful things and ugly things and things I don’t remember why I thought to photograph.
As I’m sure you’re aware, India is an enormous country and I only got a taste of it in 3 weeks but, all the same, I’m hopeful that my introduction to India can also serve as your introduction to India. Unless of course you’ve been to India already, in which case, let’s hear you describe your experience in one sentence in the comments. For the rest of you, I’m writing two more posts about India for LLworldtour, so maybe by the time I’m done with them you’ll finally know how my trip was.
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Emma Holliday is a freelance writer and travel blogger who likes drinking tea, petting puppies, and analyzing representations of women in media. When she’s not busy wishing she were a polyglot, she’s backpacking Europe, working on an organic farm in Hawai’i, or planning her next misadventure. Read more of Emma’s writing on her blog, An Opportune Moment.