India is not for everyone. Based on what we experienced in Rajasthan it is noisy, dirty, crowded and chaotic. The infrastructure is deplorable, and I marvel at the ability of people to survive on roads where everyone is competing for space. It’s not enough that that applies to every kind of wheeled vehicle but add cows, elephants, camels and goats to the mix and it gets more than a little frightening.
That being said, there is another way of looking at it. India is a way of life, one that I suspect is quite different from that of many visitors. To enjoy what it has to offer one should go with heart and mind open to the experience. One guide said it best when he advised not to just focus on the sights but to see the life.
The life has much to do with Hindu tradition. Marriages are arranged, and couples share their life with the husband’s family. While husbands have considerable freedom, wives typically stay close to home and are not to go out at night for fear of being labeled with uncomplimentary terms.
For the most part, women are illiterate and according to one guide, cell phones have provided them a way to communicate with their friends and family. They may not be able to read or write but they have learned to identify numbers. Hopefully, the fact that young girls are now attending school will change that in time. Again quoting a guide, women who are educated and working outside the home are often castigated by family and friends for having broken with tradition. All this leads me to believe it would be difficult being a woman in India.
Cremation is the norm except for children and unmarried young women whose remains may be buried or with girls between 12 and 18 set adrift on the Ganges.
Business is conducted on the street or in nondescript store fronts. There is little evidence of malls or department stores yet there appears to be no lack of available goods and services.
There are many historically interesting sites to visit all of which add to understanding the culture.
If you are a textile loving person, India is heaven. The beauty of the work is breathtaking though I can’t say much about the working conditions or the equipment. When it came to weaving, I was blown away. Compared to my sophisticated setup the looms are primitive yet I can’t imagine creating the intricate designs that were common. Interestingly, much of the textiles are created by men though women working at home do most of what is hand stitched.
Let me conclude this rambling by saying that if you go to India, treat yourself to great hotels. Some are palaces formerly occupied by maharajahs with decor that is over the top. In addition, the staff is attentive, courteous and kind in a gentle way that is not always a characteristic of westerners.
Despite all its differences, I totally enjoyed the experience of India and am glad to have gone now when it still retains much of its old culture. I suspect in years to come that will change and India will be a different place. If you are one who enjoys immersing yourself in place and taking away what it offers, then India is a place to consider.
16 thoughts on “Summing It Up”
Its interesting to view India from your perspective … The things that are so normal and mundane to a resident may seem weird or fascinating to an outsider…Being an Indian woman I can tell you that India is a brilliant mix of old and modern…In the costal region you will see fisherwomen who are completely financially independent but their dress and manner of speaking will be very traditional. Nowadays there are a lot of love marriages ; though we still believe when you marry a person you marry the family. I personally believe that we walk a fine line between traditions and modern society
Like Alycia, I admire you… Thank you for the information and sharing your adventure and photos.
Just amazing! I would not make it in India. I’m a little too OCD. I admire you for making the trek to explore a life so far out of what we consider our western comfort zone. Rest up, enjoy the memories, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thank you for sharing your incredible trip Linda, the experience of a life time I am sure, you opened my eyes to so much!
There are places in this world that I would love to visit and there are places that I would enjoy seeing as an armchair traveler. Thank you for taking us to India with you and your honest opinions on what you experienced. That is what makes each of us decide if a destination is one we wish to experience personally.
Linda, I enjoyed your trip and seeing India through your eyes and commentary! Even though we had a trip planned and had to cancel it, I probably don’t have India on my bucket list! The traffic and noise would get the best of me!
Thanks for summing it up Linda.. I quote.. ‘you have to feel India.. you can’t just see/experience her’.. and you all surely felt her.. thanks for dreaming dreams with me.. I totally agree with you.. India’s hotels and Palaces are something amazing.. its the only way I dare do India.. often
xx hugs j – Glam Girls travel well.. x
Love your photos and insightful commentary. Have “passed” twice visiting India in the past, preferring to be an armchair traveler (and going to other places on my Big bucket list.) !
I agree that India can give you a bit of culture shock. I would like to point this out that people from Rajasthan are not illiterate. They know many languages since tourism is the main industry there. All Hindu girls irrespective of their marital status are cremated. Infrastructure is well developed in the metropolitan areas.
I think I limited illiteracy to women, particularly those of older generation. About the cremation, I was basing my comment on information provided by a guide. Thanks for your comment.
I dont agree with you that Indian women lead oppressive lives.
We have the best of both the worlds as we have family support and the freedom to fulfil our dreams
This reminds me of my trip to Tanzania back in 2007. Is that a picture of a crematory with smoldering bodies on the edge of the river?
Yes, quite numbing.
These photos sure bring back memories of our visit to India. Not a big culture shock, since we were living in Bangladesh (our 8th year) at the time.
8 years in Bangladesh must have left you with lots of interesting stories.