It’s true what people say about places; you either like it or you don’t. India has something for every sense. Sensory onslaught of the highest degree. And maybe a sensory overload.
Vistas of rolling seas, strong rivers, serene backwaters, colourful temples in abundance, majestic palaces, old churches and forgotten ruins. And let’s not forget about the garbage! Everywhere you go, a seeming disregard for the environment. Paper, plastic, old shoes, clothes, food waste, etc dumped sometimes right next to the garbage skip. And the sight of flies congregating on everything, en masse, might make you throw up in your mouth a little.
Constant beeping car horns can be overbearing and irritating. There’s plenty of it for no apparent or obvious reason, other than making sure the horn still works. Two beeps for I’m-behind-you, four beeps for get-out-of-my-way and a long one for get-the-hell-out-of-my-way…this seems to be the most used. Surprisingly, there’s no shouting or swearing, just beeping! The temples can be serene and quiet if you overlook the odd whistle to create order. And an early morning call to prayer can be soothing especially when you get the disco version with meditation chanting from a nearby rooftop.
The air is sometimes so polluted when you blow your nose it’s all black! But don’t fear, that’s the least of your worries with the smell of urine, animal poop(mostly), steaming rotting carbage, exhaust fumes and the like filling your nostrils from the moment you step outside.
And let’s not forget how freakin hot it is…ALL THE TIME! When you sweat while you’re taking a cold shower you know it’s hot. And not just ordinary hot, but steaming hot. Which doesn’t help at all with the mosquito situation. If you’re not sweating you are itching. And no amount of repellent helps unless you are constantly submerged in it.
The water in India is suspect so unless you want travellers diarrhea stick to the bottled kind. And be weary of the street food if you have a sensitive constitution. Know that the taste of India is unique and unparalleled! Every meal is an experience and no area cooks the same from east to west, or north to the south. From a family diner to a fancy food hall, there can be no bad meal. Everything is flavorful, tasty and always filling. And no, you can never have enough of curry, chapati, naan or paratha.
BUT, don’t for one minute imagine that a love hate decision can be made from reading this blog. It has to be experienced. Especially the smell of burning incense, tolling bells and colourful displays of an evening Pooja on the Ganga; the colourful lights at Diwali; a North and south Indian thali; and a boat ride down the Ganga!
The jury is still out on my decision, so I guess I’ll have to come back…