I met a friend yesterday who, with that look of sheer apprehension and fear across her face, told me about her upcoming plans to visit India. It kind of made me laugh, as I momentarily relived the utter terror and excitement I had felt as I departed for Mumbai. What is it about India that sends people into a panic? Is it the filth, the poverty, the overwhelming chance that you will indeed get sick? And yet, many of us take it on; almost thrilled by the chance to be awoken, with an equal probability that this will occur in a good or bad way. When I consider my reasons for riding this crazy rollercoaster, I remember longing to feel something, anything… numbed by the monotony of my life, I was desperate to be shocked, challenged, roused, energized. To that end, my wishes were fulfilled, as I witnessed 3 year olds sleeping alone on the pavement, dead bodies being burned along the ganges, palaces and forts dripping with excess, slums filling every free space, the most saturated colours I have ever seen, men grabbing and touching anywhere they please, beggars so deformed I could not even make sense of their bodies, feasts of oh so delicious food, and the searing heat of the desert that made my own jewellery burn into my skin like an iron.
So to my dear friend, about to undertake her own journey – you will be awe-inspired, you will wish you could come home at times, you will cry, you will laugh so hard it hurts, you will need the toilet (a lot), you will be changed forever, and you will most certainly go back.
Here are my first impressions – taken in the first 24 hours of arriving x