I leave India with very mixed feelings. On the one hand it has the beautiful buildings, temples and gardens, mixed with the vastly different cultures that is a real life experience making me very glad I came. But I can’t help but feel all of this is overshadowed with the horrific poverty, garbage, dog eat dog mentality and total lack of respect for anyone bar themselves.
I have never felt welcome here, always an outsider and on the receiving end of quick glances and giggles as people deliberately try to push in front of a queue. There have been a couple of times that we have met some really nice people, very welcoming and talkative, but it quickly becomes clear they’re trying to rip us off.
India has some spectacular places to visit. On our trip we mostly stuck to the big tick boxes. Mumbai, Goa, New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. But India is such a vast country you could spend years here and never see it all, from the cold mountains of Los to the warm beaches of Kerela, it’s a vast country with too much to see in one visit.
Despite my mixed feelings about India, some of the places we’ve visited have been really impressive and it’s understandable why people travel here. The temples ooze grandeur and some of the craftsmanship is unbelievable. Some of our favourites were The Taj Mahal (obviously), the Akshardham temple, Juntar Manar observatory, Amber Fort and Humayun’s tomb.
The people of India have no respect for our planet, the garbage is just tossed at the side of the road and is utterly horrible. Even in Goa on the main tourist road it was like walking through a dump with wild animals all around scrounging for scraps of food. I can understand some littering maybe in poorer areas where finding enough money to eat is the main priority but in a holiday destination full of hotels and restaurants it really is a total disregard for the environment and hygiene. We were so disappointed.
The other thing that is quite disgusting is the amount of men who think it’s ok to just pee up against anything in sight whenever they feel like it. Even though there are public urinals for men, you’ll still find them 10 meters away from the urinals unzipping in front of a tree instead. The smell of urine is never far away and it’s quite normal for men to pull up on the side of the road, get off their bike and casually pee whilst you walk past.
You can’t trust anyone
It makes you feel very lonely when it dawns on you that you can’t trust anyone and it’s just better not to engage in any type of conversation. It will only lead to a topic were they can gain something and this was probably the most disheartening part of our stay. Praying on tourists is apparently just how it works so if you are thinking about visiting India just bear in mind what peoples real motives are whenever they strike up a conversation with you.
With all that said I do wonder what it would be like diving deep into the parts of India away from the tourist areas. You hear so many travellers raving about how amazing India is, did we just get a tainted view? I also wonder if I would have enjoyed it more on my own, it was Hayley that got most of the attention, and as the streets are 90% male dominated we felt very uncomfortable most of the time.
My tips for visiting India
- Don’t travel alone if you are female and keep fully covered up.
- Spend £30 a night on hotels, the cheaper ones we found to be very dirty.
- Avoid public transportation, however the Dehli Metro was fine in non peak hours.
- Don’t walk the streets after dark.
- Always haggle hard with taxi and tuk tuk drivers, we was commonly getting quoted 3x the actual price.
- Don’t go anywhere with anyone.
- Avoid street food and spend a little more to eat in decent restaurants
We are glad we came to India, it has been an amazing life experience and has definitely put certain aspects of modern life into perspective. However I cant say I have really enjoyed my time here as much as other countries on our travels. When I have been in a secure tourist area such as the temples or tombs it was perfectly fine, but walking around the streets was far from enjoyable and not something I looked forward to. Obviously it’s only the lower classes walking the streets and trying to rip you off and we are not naive enough to tarnish everyone with the same brush. As we said before we met some lovely people with no agenda but they were few and far between.
When visiting India it’s easy to go from your nice hotel in a coach to each tourist destination, sheltered by your tour guide or package deal, however I don’t think you really get a feel for the culture and way of life in India. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.