Thursday, October 11, 2012

Extreme India

My greatest birthday gift to myself has just finished. Wonderful, wonderful 16 days. 11 days in India. I'm still having flashbacks of what happened to me there, the funny, the sweet, the weird, the irritation, the amazement, the challenge. I read a  blog (just in time while I was trying to find the words) saying, "...seeing a place not only for the first time, but also it has not prepared for it to be seen." India I think is like this. It doesn't need to prepare for others. Take it as you see it. Love it or hate it. And I think it's in this unpretentious character where you find the beauty of India. And that's what's challenging too. A Japanese student I talked to over a comfy snack in a restaurant after getting stuck in one of the ghats in Varanasi because of sudden heavy rain, told me she chose India to travel for a month because someone told her it would change her mind. I asked her if it has changed hers already, she said she doesn't know yet, but she feels like home. Maybe I felt similar. When I was about 3/4 on my trip, I thought India doesn't care if I'm around or not. They don't need me because they're survivors. Maybe I was the one who needed India. I needed to hear the adamant honking on the streets all the time, to smell the garbage, to see people brushing their teeth on the streets, to get cheated, to see how hygiene is not a necessity for living, to haggle with almost everything that you purchase, to fall in line at the ticket stand at a train station, to get my feet dirty at every end of the day. I needed to feel at home at my host's place, to get help from strangers, to be amazed at how devoted they are with Hinduism, to witness them taking a bath on the holy Ganga River every morning and at dusk, to hear their chanting and record their rituals, to see a corpse floating at Ganga with two birds chirping on its head, to be offered milk tea, to see cows happily roaming in front of hotels, to just be in awe at their dexterity in arts and architecture, to share smiles and take photos of them. And for what reason? Like the Japanese student, I still don't know exactly yet. But it certainly left an impact in me. I feel happy when I recall these things. In general, I choose to love India.

Taj Mahal, Agra. The shadows here were a class of kids having their field trip. They were all expressing
their awe and excitement as they entered the gate and had a glimpse of this. I got goosebumps!

Western group of Temples in Khajuraho. Very intricate sculptures embody the temples, some of them dating back
to as early as 900 AD. It was rewarding for me to see the art that we studied in Art History in college. Really magnificent! 

Loving Mother and her child. At Fatehpur Sikri, Agra. I love taking portraits, but I couldn't take out
my camera all the time. So it made my day when I get the chance to take photos of beautiful people, beautiful in all ways.

Indian little boys are very good looking.  At Taj Mahal.

India probably have the happiest cows. My rickshaw driver (the man on the right)
told me that cows have owners, they roam around at daytime, and go home before night falls. So cute!

Students from Chennai. They were so friendly to me and I spent some time with them inside this Qutab Minar in New Delhi. They were on a field trip, and I asked them if I could ride with them in their bus up to the town. It was a desperate move because I didn't have enough rupees to go back to town because the rickshaw driver charged me so much going here.  They got excited at the idea! Hehe. Their teacher didn't allow me though. One of the girls has an email, I hope
she contacts me so I could give them a copy of their photos.

Man inside Agra Fort. Just like Filipinos, Indians like to chill and just observe around.

Ganga River, Varanasi. Varanasi was the most challenging place in India that I've been to so far, but very interesting because of its strong character.
Every morning, people pray and take a bath at the river which they believe to be holy.

Taking a bath, a bonding activity. Hindus believe that the water from Ganga will cleanse their souls. Even cows take a bath here to beat the heat.

Cooking fish curry and dining local style! On the left, our host preparing the curry by grinding the main ingredients ginger and garlic; middle are other spices and
turmeric powder and some leaves to be put in the curry; right side, dinner under the moonlight. I met these people by chance. The girls were couch surfing with one of the boys, and the host was so kind to invite me to join them for dinner because I love fish.

Food! I forgot what these dishes are called. On the left are two breads, served like a balloon, hollow on the inside,
then you poke it to flatten. On the right is curd soup, the bowl shape is like a crispy thin biscuit with peas
and cottage cheese inside. Tastes sour and sweet, really yummy :)

This little man became my sudden guide to the Elephant Sanctuary in Agra. He was selling postcards outside Fatehpur Sikri,
and he told me he could accompany me in going to the sanctuary, which turned out to be temporarily closed to tourists, but we went on anyway.
I was lucky to have him as my guide :) He wants to be a doctor.

In Varanasi.

Mother Teresa's tomb, Kolkata.
21 hour train ride to Kolkata. I didn't have an ipod or whatever gadget so I was very, very, very bored. Train is
the most popular means to go from one city or province to another. 

These are just a few that have struck me. There are more that I wasn't able to document. Mostly, the people I met here made my trip more memorable. I will share about these places in detail on another post :)  I like India, and for those who plan to go here too, I hope you'll love it too as much as I did, maybe even more. 


  1. I love the photos, Liz! And I love your stories. More!!! :)

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