It's true that you don't just visit India, you experience it. When I decided to travel to India I wasn't sure what to expect, I just knew I wanted to go. I had heard stories and seen pictures, but ever since I was a child I wanted to experience if for myself. My time in Thailand left me wanting to see more of Asia and my life conspired to make it happen. My first week in India has already been so many things all rolled into one. I have seen so little of this vast country, but I've already felt the full range of human emotions.
My first night here I was ripped off and left stranded by a lying taxi driver which was an unpleasant experience to say the least. When I finally made it to my hotel I was just happy to be safe and have all my belongings. The first morning here I woke up feeling sick from the plane food and perhaps the stress of the night before. I spent the first day of this long journey in bed, missing home, but knowing that it would only get better.
Slowly, after that first day was over I began to explore. India is the strangest and most frantic place I have ever experienced. This is not the kind of place I would recommend as a vacation destination to very many people. So far, it is not relaxing or slow paced. It is beautiful in spite of itself, and beyond my wildest imagination in so many ways. It is a place that challenges you quickly and rewards you slowly. I have been sick, sore, surprised, almost run over, lost, confused, happy, sad, enlightened, stared at, amazed, bewildered, befriended, and in love with this place all at the same time.
I have seen the full spectrum of wealth and poverty here. At any given point you might see a new BMW and then a dirt poor child begging 10 feet away. When you walk down the street you might see young children sorting through collected trash for recyclables to sell for a few rupees. I almost feel guilty wearing Oakley sunglasses and North Face clothes carrying around an iPhone and a mobile recording studio.
The Indian people that I have talked to say that the problems here have a lot to do with overcrowding which I can see is true. But when you dig a little deeper, it seems that everywhere you go the same problems are worn by all the different faces of the world. I have learned a little bit about Indian history and politics thus far which has only reinforced my conclusions about humanity and the realities we all face each day.
There are many things about this place I don't understand and probably never will, but I am here for the experience and to see this amazing country. I have experienced greed and dishonesty contrasted by the kindness and hospitality of strangers. I have eaten foods with the finest of flavors. I have smelled amazing street food cooking with one step and stale urine and strange foulness with the next. I have seen beautiful palaces and historical sites contrasted by streets and other areas littered with trash.
India is a country of yin and yang. Wealth and poverty sit side by side without pretense. Sights and smells both good and bad contrast at a moments notice. It is an energetic and frantic place full of wonder. It is a place that will defy your expectations no matter what they are. India is every aspect of humanity existing in a single moment.
As I look ahead to other places, the mountains, and the beaches, I can only wonder what else this unique and wonderful country has in store.