What am I expecting from my first trip to India?
I am expecting to be shocked. I want to be shocked. I want the complete cultural shock that I mildly found in South East Asia, the now irrational fear that I felt when I first stepped off the train in Mongkok, Hong Kong. You see, every time I mention to one of my ‘non-traveller’ friends that I am heading to India I get the same reaction, the reaction of ‘Really?!’ ‘Are you sure?’, apprehensive reactions built from a mixture of stories and pre judgments. Every time I hear those reactions, I am glad I chose India, it is the reason I travel, to see a different world to one I live in every day, to attempt, in a small way, to see life in someone else’s shoes.
I am under no illusion, that it will be not a complete cultural shock to the over privileged western city that I live in and I am definitely not of the thought that it will be the magical wonderful colourful country that I dreamt of as a child, because that is when I started dreaming of my visit, as a child, it has been a place that I have continued to build expectations of, all throughout my years. Expectations of a land covered in beautifully painted palaces, ladies in intricate handmade saris and majestical Tigers. Visions built from watching The Little Princess on repeat and reading a Life of Pi, however, despite my now more realistic vision, I still do not believe that India will ruin my expectations.
Amidst, the many things we will see, I am still certain I will find those bursts of colours that you see in the Bollywood movies, that I will have my olfactory senses overwhelmed by all the variety of spices and flavours that come from across the country and of course, the beautiful palaces and forts.
I am looking forward to taking in all the chaotic noise and congestion of Delhi, despite how overwhelmed it made me feel in Hanoi. I am looking forward to feeling the heartbeat of the city.
I am expecting to have my heart broken a million times over watching brightly painted Elephants transporting tourists up the Amber Fort, working tirelessly with a broken spirit for someone to have a photo opportunity. From that, I am expecting my determination to do my bit for wildlife tourism to be stronger than ever.
I know I am going to try some of the best food of my life, both from restaurants and the small carts at the side of the road.
I am excited to see the kind faces that I have been told about from people who have visited previously, kind faces that show genuine interest in your reason for being in their country and I am eager to learn about their lives too.
I am yet to mentally prepare myself for seeing the Taj Mahal, I am certain it will take my breath away but I need to remember to take it in with my own eyes and not just behind a camera lens.
I am apprehensive about being out of my comfort zone, but the kind of apprehensive that gives you adrenaline, the good kind.
I am impatient to experience a new kind of paradise staying on a boat on the rivers of Alleppey in Kerala.
I know, at least I hope, I will come home more open minded, a continuation from my previous travels.
Mostly, I am excited to explore a country full of life and diversity, a country that I will hopefully come home from wanting more and that I will urge people to visit while I tell them all my stories.
Life in India is different I am sure, but different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.