I’m planning a 2 week trip with my daughter this upcoming April, with stops in India, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. When I tell people of my travel plans the first response is always, “Why India?” And then they continue, “it’s so poor, and dirty, and your will get sick.” My response in defense is, ” There are many things that give good reason to want to visit this country”. Let me ellaborate. If you are one of the many that feel the same way, thinking anyone would be crazy to want to go to India, hopefully I can share some insight on why it’s not as bad as you think afterall. Possibly you could even become more open-minded about it and consider going yourself? Well, I’m probably not going to be that convincing, but I can share some positive things I’ve learned for my approaching visit that could set a clearer picture of why I’ve chose to go there. I understand there is validity in some points, but travelling to me is a form of education. You learn so much from visiting places and seeing how it really is, for the locals to live, day in and day out, in their part of this world. What would you learn from sitting in a fancy hotel, at a typical location, just like where your from, with all the comforts of home? Not much of anything in my opinion. If you want to travel that way, then save your time and money and stay home. If you want to get the best out of your trips, get out and emerge yourself with the people, their food and their culture, even if it’s not so pretty or you feel completely out of your element. You not only are learning, but you may also get a new sense of respect and gratitude of how you live yourself.
I came up with a list of 4 reasons why people tell me not to go and 5 reasons why I think I should. First the bad news.
Why I shouldn’t go to India:
Littering in India is a big problem. Unfortunately, it is something that seems to have gotten worse and out of control because its been going on for so long. There were no anti-littering laws made by Indian government as they do in other, cleaner, countries. The government now has made laws, that if caught littering in public places, the government would fine you 500 rupees. The anti-littering campagnes and new laws in place, are aiding to help solve this problem. Seeing this first hand would be an important lesson to my daughter and me as well. By witnessing these dreadful sights and unpleasant smells up close, it could make a huge impact on our feelings of how important it truly is, to respect your land and environment, for the health and welfare of the people, animals and the Earth itself. This paints a clear picture of the importance for sustainablity for our future generations, and how devastating it can be if you don’t.
The Lesson- Take care of our planet
Unfortunately, India has an unequal distribution of wealth. Most all of the economic development is found in the larger cities, where as most of the population is living in the countryside. By going to these poor countries, it helps you put into perspective of how good we really have it. It may even influence your desire to help in some way, possibly volunteering or giving donations to a cause. As an American, I am guilty of living a pretty spoiled life. Im not rich by any means, but I do understand that I am extremely fortunate to have a home and bed to sleep in, food in my stomach and clothes on my back, which is not a given to many people all over this world. We are so quick to complain about what we don’t have, but spend little time appreciating the abundance of the things we do have.
The Lesson-Be grateful
India is set to be the most populated country in the world, climbing to 1.21 billion this year. While that is astonishing, why is that a reason not to go visit? I look at is as an adventure. Call me crazy, but I think it would be so fun to zip along in the crowded streets of New Delhi in a rickshaw, or shop in the Grand Bazarr, full of the colorful items for sale, noises, smells, and fast-paced action throughout the market. Although I may not like to “live” in a place that is so congested with people everywhere, why not enjoy the exposure of that sort of enviroment for yourself? It could be a real thrill: sometimes you got to get out of your comfort zone to feel alive. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
The lesson- Culture-shock can be fun!
- YOU WILL GET SICK
Yes, there is a possiblitiy of getting food-poisoning in India, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting. If you are educated on what to do and what not to, get the proper immunizations, and are careful, you probably won’t get sick. You are also likely to get sick in places such as Mexico and Dominican Republic, (I did when I last visited Punta Cana, DR in May 2011) but that doesn’t seem to stop the flocks of tourists heading to the sandy beaches these places offer. Planning ahead and being sensible could avoid unwanted illness on your trip. Tips like: not drinking the water, being sure water bottles are sealed, not eating from street venders, being sure to get any needed vaccinations and medications from your physician before you leave. If you and cautious of what you eat, you should be fine.
The Lesson-Be prepared
Why I should go to India:
The good news about traveling to India is it is very inexpensive. Unlike expensive trips to places like Europe , your US dollar will go a very long way. $1.00 US is equal to 61.69 Indian Rupee. Some of common things you would buy would be a lunch, including tea, would cost the equivilent of $1.00-$2.00 US , a rickshaw ride would cost $.50 US, the entrance to museums would cost $2.00 US equivalent. While on vacation in India you can have $20.00 US, per day and do many things and eat very well. Not bad at all, when I consider I spent about $200 US, per day, while I was in Paris this past August, and I was being very frugal!
The Lesson-The value of money and economics
Indian food is so distinct with its intense flavors of curries and local spices. You can’t help but to instantly know when you smell Indian food. Although many feel that all Indian food is spicy, a lot of it is, but that’s not always the case. They also have aromic foods and naan breads that are rich with flavor, but not hot to the palate. To be able to taste the ancient culture through its food, is a learning experience to the taste buds. Trying meals that have been past down from generation to genration can help feel a sense of the people through their food. Many of the local spices cannot be found anywhere else, so by eating their food, you get to expose yourself to flavors like no other, even if you prefer a cheeseburger at home. Be adventurous and try something you never have. You never know how much you may like it if you’re too afraid to try.
The Lesson- Food is good for the soul
It is said that visiting India is an unmistakenly spiritual experience, whether intentionally or not. By visiting the many beautiful temples of India or the Holy water of the Ganges River, you can tell that relgion and spirituality is a very important part of the Indian culture. No matter if you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Hindu, an athiest, a yogi; this place manifests spiritualism from it’s core. That’s why it’s no surprise that celebrities seeking a some form of spiritual awakening, such as the Beatles, Steve Jobs, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Goldie Hawn, and many others, have travelled to this Holy land in their quest. If being in a place gives you a feeling of inner peace and improves your spiritual awareness, I think it could impact your life in a very positive and meaningful way.
The Lesson-Travel is a good way to find yourself
If you love nature and all of its beauty, why not go to India and climb the Himalayan mountains? While being the highest mountain system in the world, it is also has almost every type of climate due to the many ranges in altitude. If you aren’t that adventurous but still want a little action, you could always go white water rafting on the Ganges River, but if you are a little more laid back and like sand on your toes, go visit the beautiful beaches of Goa. Whatever form of natural beauty you enjoy, India offers a variety of landscapes that would be worthy of seeing .
The Lesson: The beauty in nature
If you are a history buff, India has a lot to offer you. You can visit the world famous Taj Mahal and be in awe of its beauty and architecuture. There is also the Outb Minar, the tallest monument in India. Or witness the flower shaped Lotus Temple with its petal- like construction. There is the Red Fort, which was the home of the Mughal emperor of India for nearly 200 years, until 1857, and you can also see his resting place by visiting Humayan’s Tomb, just to name a few of India’s many historic sites. From temples to museums to statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, India has sites that can only be seen in its part of the this world.
The Lesson- Learn from the past to plan for the future
Okay, so maybe you are still not ready to jump on the next flight to New Delhi? Fine. But hopefully, I shared some worthwhile highlights of India that you can only experience if you have a chance to go. I don’t always pick third world destinations for my travels, but I would never exclude them. Learning is key to all of my destinations. That to me, outweighs any sort of short-term inconveniences I may endure. Every new place I visit teaches me something and also helps me learn more about myself. The value in that to me, is priceless.