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The Better India

Be it our warm and welcoming nature or our hospitable attitude, India, over the years, has earned quite a reputation of being an abode of varied cultures, traditions and wisdom. In wake of the recent report by Michaela Cross on her experiences in India, we decided to venture out further and while going through several blogs on the Internet, we stumbled upon the following travellers who have shed some light on their experiences in India. Here are excerpts from a few positive stories that are worth reading:

Emily Reers

Emily Reers

I laugh when I think about the last day when a geico got stuck in the fan and his tail was cut off. One of the boys put the tail on the stick and was chasing me and Mary around with it saying I got you a present because you are leaving. I smile whenever I watch videos of the boys dancing or show my family and friends pictures of all the boys and tell them stories about them. I love telling everyone about how a family in Delhi asked Mary and I to take a picture with each of them shaking hands with us.

My trip to India was the most interesting experience of my life. I learned so much about the way Indians live and the issues that they face on a day to day basis. I learned so much about myself and what I want to do in my future. I learned that there is so much to learn about this world and about other people.

Read more about Emily’s story here.

Amanda

Amanda

When Luke was in his last semester of graduate school he had a couple weeks off in March for “spring break” so we decided to take advantage of them and travel. When planning our trip we had two places in mind Argentina or India. Both amazing in their own right, but India seemed a little more urgent for some reason. Argentina would always be there with its amazing wine and beautiful scenery, but India we had to do, just to do it. It felt like it was a place on the brink and we needed to see it.  Everyone who had travelled to India said they had amazing time but it is a hard place to travel to. And they were right.

Read more about Amanda’s story here.

Janet Morais

India is one of my favourite destinations. A destination where each of us can actually feel more “us”, more feminine, more intense and powerful. Power I would say, is the word that describes this country … Have any of you ever visited India? Feel free to share your experience with me! To describe something intangible, something we only feel has never been easy but I run the risk of trying today in describing one of my best travelling experiences so far.

Fun, evasion but above all cultural and spiritual wealth was what I felt in that trip. An exotic destination, one of the richest and most diverse cultures that I ever saw in my life. My advice to you, dear readers? Read a paragraph and close your eyes … dream or remember, as appropriate. But honestly, close your eyes and let yourself be guided by this visual and spiritual journey…

Read more about Janet’s story here.

Jim Holmes

Jim Holmes

The people are perhaps the happiest, most open, most hospitable I’ve ever come across in any of my travels. Bavarians previously held that spot, but my experiences in India blew even that away. Indians are gracious and full of laughter. I was honored to be invited into two different homes for meals, and they were some of the best times I had. (Being invited into someone’s home for food has a special significance for me, one I’m not able to explain well. Suffice it to say it means a lot).

Indians are incredibly communal people. You might be taken aback at the depth conversations go between complete strangers. During our 16 hour day trip to Agra, my bachelor colleague got a grilling on his bachelorhood status, advice on why he should marry, and insight on a successful life—all from the middle-aged driver who we’d just met that morning at 6am.

Read more about Jalal’s story here.

Edward

I started my journey from Delhi. It’s the capital of India. There are many places that are worth to see. I made my first stop at Lotus temple. The great architecture of this temple is inspired from a lotus flower. It is made up of white marble. I walked through a lush green garden to go inside. The interior of this temple is awe-inspiring. It is compulsory to keep mum inside the temple. Well, you would love to silently watch this magnificent beauty. You must see this beautiful temple in your travel to India.

There are many stunning temples and monuments in Delhi that you must see. I had hired a cab on rent because I didn’t want to miss any beautiful place that is located in the heart of Delhi. My guide had great knowledge about Indian history and he was adding a lot of interest in my travel. My holidays in India were incredibly enjoyable. I loved every place that I visited. India is a fully fledged package of natural and architectural beauties. I would love to visit there again to explore it more.

Read more about Edward’s story here.

Kari

Kari

And there was to be one last surprise. After the last giggling child had shaken hands with the visitors and disappeared down the stairs, a neighbour put a hand through the open door. From her balcony, only a few centimetres from the room we were in, she held out a chocolate ice cream to Eli. For the past hours, the pitiful fan had done nothing with the ferocious heat.

And visible to the neighbour, Eli was not only doing an impressive job but she was also coated in sweat. So. My afternoon in the Annawadi slum was everything travels should be. Unpredictable, emotional, joyful. I went there not knowing what to expect. Yet, I still ended up with something I did not expect at all.

Read more about Kari’s story here.

Barnaby Haszard Morris

Over the past week or so, as my three-year stint in India draws to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about these small things and what they all mean in the context of my life and experiences; what they add up to. I’ve been particularly dwelling on how this country has helped me develop as a person. It’s not an unusual thing for a foreigner to say “India changed my life”, or “Visiting India taught me so much”, and both of these statements certainly apply to me. Still, my existential side wants to give me credit for the experiences I’ve gotten myself through and the understanding I’ve gained.

Read more about Barnaby’s story here.

Jalal Hussain

As I crossed the border and entered Pakistan, the Border Security Force guard hugged me, welcomed me back to Pakistan and asked what I thought of India. I smiled and thought of the remark made by the Indian MP to Kuldip Nayar who didn’t realize he had even left

Jalal HussainIndia when he was in Pakistan. I could now truly relate to what he meant. We both felt we had been at home, albeit burdened by the weight of history.

Read more about Jalal’s story here.

Ruxandra Bondarescu

In December 2012, I visited India to attend the wedding of a very dear friend of mine from graduate school. It was my first time in India and my first time at a Hindu wedding.  I was there for a week and had a wonderful time. On the left you can see the picture of me with the lovely bride and groom, who were very happy and so suited for each other. I first went to Mumbai.

I stayed at the Novotel on Juhu beach where part of the wedding was conducted and shared the room with Sara, another friend from Cornell. We took many walks on the beach and saw several sunsets. I even swam once in the Arabian sea. The water was very nice and cool, but not cold. The beach was clean. There was no algae in the water and we even found a few tiny crabs.

Read more about Ruxandra’s story here.

Erin Gray

Erin Gray

I went to India alone, not knowing what to expect. I didn’t really like Pune the first couple weeks and had one of the worst cases of flu in my life. My family and fiancé, Alex, felt so far away and I didn’t know how to handle India. I also didn’t know what exactly was happening with my career or if I even wanted to stay in my field.

There was a lot of uncertainty in my life and I questioned whether I had made the right choice in coming to India. After recovering though I finally made it to a capoeira class where I met the wonderful and amazing Bond, Manoj, Sagar, and Sachin. I came home that night and told Alex that I would be ok – I had found my crowd, (and chiko chocolate milkshakes). That first night with Capoeira Pune I felt like I immediately fit in and that I had known these gentlemen for much longer than a day.

Read more about Erin Gray’s story here.

Candace

Candace

There was Tara Singh, a kind soul in Delhi whom I will forever think of as “the man who boiled my noodles.” I had been down and out with Delhi belly for three days, bought a packet of ramen noodles, and asked the owners of my guesthouse where I might find hot water. They sent me to the hotel’s rooftop kitchen, where Tara Singh proceeded to not only cook my noodles, embellishing them with fresh coriander, onions, and tomatoes, but also taught me how to make chapatis and showed me photos of his family and friends.

Read more about Candace’s story here.

Mariellen

Mariellen

From the first moment I arrived in India on December 6, 2005, I was welcomed with open arms. I met Jyoti, a young woman from Delhi, on the plane and she stayed with me until I connected with Ajay, the man picking me up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Ajay drove me back to his family’s apartment in South Delhi, where three generations of an extended family lived together, along with three servants. I have written many times about how my first morning in India I walked out onto the family’s white marble terrace and sat in the warm sun and drank tea, ate breakfast and shopped: a shawl-wallah arrived with a big bundle full of gloriously coloured suits and shawls and spread them out on the terrace.

Instead of the traveller’s hell I was lead to expect, I felt I had landed in heaven. And from that moment to this, almost 8 years, that family has continued to welcome me and make me one of their own, and I have lived in their house for many weeks at a time. Not once have they ever made me feel unwelcome in all this time; not for one second.

Read more about Mariellen’s story here.

Jacob Murphy

I had a very unique experience in india. Needless to say, it was very good to me. i had enough experiences in 5 weeks there to last a lifetime. But that’s the beautiful thing about India: you always want more and it always has more to give. From Delhi to Jaipur to Mumbai to “Sunder gao” back to Mumbai across the country to Varanasi and finally back to Delhi. Planes, trains, automobiles, rickshaws, horses, elephants and scooters. I jumped at every opportunity to do something new with enthusiasm. I visited very few “touristy” attractions and when i did it was only to observe the people there. i saw a very intimate side of India that one can only see with local knowledge.

I was fortunate enough to make fast friends while there who took it upon themselves to show me a glimpse of their lives, homes and hearts. Abhishek, Almalikhan, Nihal uncle, Delila, Carmel, Kishore, Rahul, G H Khan, Pratap, Avinash and Balu — they included me in religious ceremonies. I took my shoes off and knelt beside them in prayer. I sat on the floor and ate humble meals in their humble homes.

Read more about Jacob’s story here.

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