Of course you don’t expect to see an elephant or a snake charmer or naked sadhu as you land in one of the major cities in India. You have stopped believing in these colonial projections of India.
You won’t have to sit on the roof of a train while you traverse the country nor will you have dysentery the day after you arrive. You don’t have to eat rice and spicy food but enjoy a cuisine suited to your needs.
The Taj Mahal isn’t the only tourist attraction. To me, it’s a sorrowful reminder of a king overthrown by his son and relegated to a cell until his death.
English is widely used across India. Because there are 22 official languages and hundreds of dialects, even an Indian would face a language barrier in a remote village. When we say, “Your good name,” we aren’t implying you have a bad name too. We simply want to know whether your name is Sherry or Shannon or Dan.
You should know that the Australian, Canadian, or U.S. Dollar, Dinar, Euro, Yen, etc., will buy more than you are used to.
If you already feel a bit intrigued about planning a visit to India, wait, there’s more! This Pxley story isn’t the stereotyped take on a visit to India. When you finish reading this story, you will know why.
Note: I don’t receive kickbacks from any of the businesses mentioned in this story.
A Few Things to Remember
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Pay attention to your purse and wallet.
- In certain cities, someone is always trying to sell you something. Avoid starting a conversation with them.
- Learn to bargain.
- Vehicular traffic doesn’t stop for foot traffic. You’re not in Kansas anymore.
I tell prospective visitors to India that the country can be challenging for a tourist but less so for a traveler.
There are stark differences in earnings and livelihood, which make cities a contrasting reality of rich and poor. Old traditions and customs exist within an ever-evolving society. Pollution and poverty can hit you hard. In spite of it all, we are quite content and thankful for what we have, even though we might appear to be an unhappy lot. We just don’t show our emotions. You will return with a different outlook on India, Indians, and your life in general.
As Sarojini Naidu, an Indian activist and poet, impressed upon us in To India:
“Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound
To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;
Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,
Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.”
We don’t need a Hollywood hero to save one child from a slum in Mumbai or from a brothel in Kolkata. We ignore media outlets that haven’t gotten over their colonial and Oriental outlook. We are flummoxed by a group of elitist and classist liberals in India that aren’t open to a different point of view. What we need is for you to look at India through your educated eyes.
Come soon! We need to ask you a few personal questions. As we say in India, ”God promise, we won’t eat your brain.” Meaning, we won’t bother you. Come, okay?
Pxley Extra: Glimpses of India
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