Five things you can expect when visiting India.
Hi, it’s Tarah Rodda here, one of the Professional Communication and Digital Media students currently in India for a Sustainability Exchange program with the Centre for Environmental Education (CEE) in Ahmedabad.
The end of our time here in India is rapidly approaching, and as my fellow student traveler, Sam mentioned in an earlier post, India is a melting pot of chaos. As I try to bring things to a close in my head I thought I would share five things to expect from traveling this crazy amazing place!
- Sickness: there are 20 students and 2 educators here with us in Ahmedabad and over the last 15 days, we’ve all had our fare share of illnesses. Most people have felt various levels of ‘Delhi Belly’; a common traveler’s diarrhea. Some students have also been out for days with the flu or a chest infection. Let’s just say we quickly got comfortable talking about bodily fluids and become quite a tight knit group. We left Australia as strangers and I suspect will return as friends.
- Delays: If you’re a time efficient person like me, then brace yourself, arranging a large group to arrive at a destination is hard enough but add on top the easy going nature of India and the outcome is…delays. We quickly learnt to adjust to the slower pace of India. I’m not sure if Indian time is a thing, but I feel like it needs to be, just like island time.
- Selfies: In the state of Gujarat, we westerners are a rarity. In fact, since being here I’ve only seen about a handful of Westerners. Since Ahmedabad is not really a tourist destination, we had people taking photos of us everyday. Out of the group, the girls with blonde hair have received most of the attention, Padma, our Indian mum explained to us that it was out of innocent fascination that the locals asked for selfies. The local groups vary from young groups of friends, middle aged men to mothers passing their babies who get the rest of their family to pose with you. I think the highest selfie count was over 100 in one day at a local flower festival.
- Hospitality: From out arrival in Ahmedabad, and especially the Centre for Environment Education, we have received nothing but the loveliest and caring hospitality from our hosts and India as a nation. For many on this trip, it was their first time leaving the country so having the comfort of the group along with the kind hospitality of our hosts has really made their trip memorable.
- Mind blowing: It’s hard to explain how to expect to have your mind blown, but the Indian way of life is such a contrast to our comfortable Australian life. All I can say is that culture shock is very real. Everything is different, the crowds, the food, the smells, the history, the religion, the poverty. Our trip organizer and team leader Karena Menzie quoted the economist Joan Robinson on one of the first days, “Whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.” India is one the of the most crowded noisiest places on earth, yet the somehow it works. The organized chaos is balanced out with the peaceful gentle people co-existing with animals and the environment.This is my second time here in India and while I realise India is not for everyone, I think everyone can gain something from the experience. Seeing the ancient temples and traditions, learning the true art of networking from digital media guru’s and experiencing daily life in one of India’s safest city has all been a highlight for me. The vibrant culture, lovely people and amazing curries will keep me coming back for more time and time again.