People say there is the rest of the world, then there is India. Also referred to as “mother India”, and “Incredible India”, I must say I agree with all of it.
I want to return to her so badly, I even contemplate moving there. But I worry that going back could possibly in some way spoil the country for me, as my first time there was so magical, so special, so once in a life-time, that I’m not sure anything could possibly compare. I fear that going again and possibly experiencing the same or different could somehow undo my first impression, which was beyond memorable. It was in large part what inspired me to have this blog and to be a traveling digital nomad. It was what started my career as a travel writer – one of the pictures I took and posted online sparked the interest of a magazine editor who then contacted me and asked me to write about India for his magazine. You can’t make this shit up. I had always read about things like this happening for people- things that were unexpected, out of pure luck, the right place/right time sort of thing, and was always wanting it to happen to me, but for other things like my performing career. Well it did, but for travel writing. I spoke with a fellow nomad and travel writer and told her how serendipitous my story of breaking into travel writing was, and she told me it was “easier than most”, which is true, which is why I believe in part that it was a “God-wink” – a sign from the divine that this is what I am meant to be doing. It could’ve been a one time thing, as I am not yet a full-time travel writer and still do a variety of things for income. But only the future will tell.
I know one thing, that my travels in India as well as Nepal set a very high bar for my future travels and pretty much everything else. It was my first time traveling solo abroad, and my first time in a country that is considered the “third” or “developing” world. Yes, there were inconveniences and some scary, crazy things that happened, but I knew what to expect and made it through and it was all part of what made India so amazing and unforgettable. I do worry that I wouldn’t be able to survive there if I stayed long term, but there is no way of knowing for sure until I do.
Many people refer to India as frustrating, and I can definitely see why, but there is so much more about it in my opinion that is fascinating and good and worthwhile so it makes up for it. I personally didn’t like that I couldn’t seem to find good, westernized pizza (although I’m sure there is some somewhere as I did find a great Italian-owned restaurant with great Italian food),and that walking around, something I love to do and one main way I explore places, was pretty hard at times. I don’t remember seeing any sidewalks, stop signs or traffic lights, so there are no clear boundaries between pedestrians and vehicles, and the numerous other things that count as vehicles in India- rickshaws, (including bicycle rickshaws) and horse-drawn carriages.My Indian friend who took me in and showed me India (more about this later) told me that driving in India was “based on mutual understanding” (one of the best, funniest things I’ve heard about India and one that is also pretty accurate). Basically, walking anywhere is dangerous, as you are often sandwiched between buildings, people, and passing motorists, cars and busses a hair’s length from you.
Things in India also work differently and are a bit unorganized.While any nation with people has problems, India has a lot. I have heard there is widespread police and government corruption, a caste system (which I witnessed firsthand), women are subject to different standards of treatment (even though I was treated like a princess while there) lots of human rights violations, widespread animal abuse and neglect (which I saw and what bothered me most about India), and a host of other elements that make the standard of living less than that of a developed nation.
But India also has many things that developed countries to an extent do not, including immense, renowned hospitality (which I experienced), a sense of honor and community, incredible food, spirituality and vivid scenery.
In India and Nepal, I was taken in on two separate occasions by two different families, and ended up essentially living with them. They were wonderful people, and I was in awe of how they treated me, in some ways better than my own family. They each welcomed me in without knowing me, a light-skinned stranger from a foreign land, and gave me a place to sleep and food as if I was one of their own. Amazing, right? I haven’t yet to hear if this is necessarily normal or not, but this experience, along with the luck and hospitality I experienced somewhat in Europe (although not nearly as much) was essentially what started my idea for the Rogue Intrepid, and the notion that I could possibly be a nomad, going from place to place, country to country, relying on my luck and the kindness of strangers for housing and food.
While in India, besides being invited to live with my first family through a Facebook post (yep! I took a big chance and it turned out to be better than great, even though it was risky.) I visited a renown guru/psychic in New Delhi who, based on my birth date, told me crazily accurate things about my past, present and future, including the fact that “there would be trouble leaving India” (there was), went to a Leper colony, saw religious Hindu ceremonies, visited some of the holiest places in India (Varanasi, the Golden Temple in Amritsar) and one of the seven wonders of the world (The Taj Mahal). I celebrated Diwali upon my arrival, which was particularly coincidental considering that the holiday celebrates the return of lord Rama, after he defeated the demons, and my host family said that I was a bearer of good luck given my arrival time and my “good feet” and “good forehead” and the fact that it was considered good luck to have a guest come around Diwali. Often I wonder if I lived in India in a past life, and me coming to India during a religious Holiday when it celebrates the return of a God means something….
In one of my other blog posts here, I write how I have always been a huge day dreamer with a big imagination, and thus everyday life is quite disappointing. Well, India was one of those few times when dreams and imagination seeped into reality and I experienced what can only be considered manifestation; a visceral experience of what my mind has always envisioned as incredible adventure. I have always been obsessed with films and like many other Aspies, get so involved with them and feel so let down when they are over with, wishing that I was experiencing what was happening in the film myself, and hoping that I someday could experience something similar. (This is a big part of the reason I wanted to be an actress, was to experience adventure). Well, this was what India was like.
I remember before I left imagining I would experience some kind of hardship, perhaps becoming exasperated and collapsing near some giant religious architecture, only to be put back on my feet by a small holy man who would tell me something inspirational to get me back on track. Well, that sorta happened, only in Nepal and not near religious architecture, and in a much more intense way, and many other intense experiences happened similar So for the first time in a sense, I experienced a movie like adventure where nothing was dull, I was living moment to moment and around every corner something original and stimulating and life changing was awaiting. The greatest moment of my life so far was sitting on a boat on the Ganges, and making three wishes, then setting a little paper boat with a flower and candle onto the water and watching it float away, burning brightly, into a gaggle of other little boats all glowing. It was beyond magical.
Staying with different hosts while working and volunteering is precisely what I am planning on doing when I do take on my next adventure. I’m not going to just go and hope that someone takes me in, no, (as that’s not even what I did in India and Nepal), rather I’ll be going about it more organized, through Workaway.com, which is an incredible website filled with opportunities galore the world over, and any aspiring nomad should look into. (I am basically going to travel South America and Africa, and possibly the Middle East, and Asia doing this. [This sounds like quite a lot, I know, and just writing it without an “attempt” or “try” or “hope” gives me the bad feeling like I may die doing it or something awful will happen, but I want to do this so badly and feel that I am meant to, so I am not going to go about it half-assed in any way. I know I have to be realistic, but given how much luck I have had in the past with traveling, I believe that even if something negative happens, all will work out for the good, and I can always fly back to the states if something horrible happens, but I am planning on making it no matter what, and I recently read about a guy who was put in jail and even kidnapped and he made it through]). Anyways, I digress…..
It is my hope that not if, but when I go back, I can continue to experience all this country and its people has to offer.My hope is to live there someday, and being that I now have friends and people I consider family, and a possible job opportunity (yep!) I may very well do this.
If you have an adventureous spirit, are patient and are up for an earth shattering experience,
go to India.