When I think of India I think of bright, shining colours, crazy traffic with loud hooting, crowds of people everywhere, painted elephants walking in the streets, absolutely amazing vegetarian food and smoggy, warm air. My short time there was just a taster and someday I’d like to go back for more.
My sister and I travelled through a part of India called the “Golden triangle” in 2012 with On-the-Go Tours. We travelled from Delhi to Jaipur to Agra and back to Delhi. So we saw only a small part of India….but India is really overwhelming so perhaps it’s best we started small. I’ll have to write 2 or 3 posts about our trip because otherwise this post will be way too long. (Even if I just tell you about the highlights.)
Our On-the-Go tour was a group tour called Taj Traveller and, coincidently, we were one of three pairs of sisters in our group of around twenty people! There was a pair of sisters who originally lived in Jamaica but now live in Canada and another pair who come from Trinidad but met up in India for this tour because the one now lives in England. Then there was us, the South African sisters.
We saw the tour special on Group On (back then Group On still had real specials and wasn’t just an advertisement email). I remember it was a very quick, spontaneous decision when we decided to go. I’m so glad we did!:)
We flew with Emirates. I would fly with them again anytime! They had great service, gave us a free pack of cards and the air-hostesses wear pretty hats. (Those red hats with the white scarf.) We had quite a long stop-over at Dubai airport. It was interesting to fly over Dubai because all you see for kilometers is just sand… and then you see a city in the sand.
I still remember that excited yet scared feeling Linz and I both had when our plane was flying over Delhi to land. It was a good thing we booked a group tour otherwise we would have been totally bewildered! The random Indian guy with the big mustache and turban who drove us to our first hotel was already rather intimidating!
We really had a great tour guide and he told us a lot about Indian religion, beliefs and the historical caste system. I wasn’t really aware about this system before. It divides people into different ranks and social class and they may only get jobs or get married according to their specific social rank. Currently affirmative action is being implemented with regard to this caste system. (So we’re not the only ones with those sort of problems.)
The streets in India are a huge culture shock even for a South African! I know we, in South Africa, occasionally, ok-quite often, have cows on the roads but in India you will be stuck in a traffic jam on the highway with a man riding an elephant behind you, a herd of camels in front of you and a whole family on a motorbike next to you. If the bus is full… No problem- you can sit on the roof with the luggage! Oh, and instead of indicators they hoot. Many trucks have “horn please” painted on them. You hoot and wave as you pass the car in front of you. There’s an expression “Never rent a vehicle in countries where they believe in reincarnation.” Could be a valid point!?
We rode on the Delhi metro, Delhi’s subway, which was very busy but surprisingly organized. At a craft shop we watched a guy sing a song from the bottom of his heart and lungs while weaving an intricate carpet- quite entertaining! The song and particular pattern of the carpet are passed down from generation to generation. We also visited many interesting historical sites. We got henna tattoos at the night market from a lady who wasn’t shouting at us to come to her. (The other shop keepers were all very loud and a bit too eager to sell their products.) At the market an 8-year-old boy helped a few of us cross the road… You wouldn’t believe what a mission it is to get to the other side of the road… Or maybe we were just too chicken to get to the other side!?