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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trip to India

Still uncertain about whether I'll be able to go to India this summer.

I don't have the money, so I've asked my parents and they have some concerns. They're afraid that over the summer will be too hot and maybe during monsoon and too difficult for me to deal with.

They worry that I know no one there and I will be traveling alone.

They worry that I'll just be helping out at an orphanage and not get to see India and what a shame it would be to go all that way and not see the big sites.

Personally, I don't care that much about the big sites. The group I'm interested in going with does offer a trip that includes site seeing, but it's all Islamic sites. Sure, the Taj Mahal must be worth seeing, it is a wonder of the world, but I won't be upset not to see it. I'm not much of a museum goer and I don't have a checklist of places I have to see. I just want to experience India. I just want to be there.

My family does not seem to be able to understand that desire.

I am interested in everyday lives. I don't care about being a tourist, I just want to experience life.

For some reason I want this trip very, very badly and I can't entirely put into words why. Going to India is something I've wanted for years, but I kept it on the back burner of my mind, figuring an opportunity would present itself eventually. It's always so hard to have both the time and the money at the same point. Now an opportunity has come up and the desire sprung up from the back of my mind and now I can hardly think about anything else I want it so badly.

I feel like a fraud because I've never been to India. How can I participate in Indian culture and religion when the only access I have to it is through Indians living in America?

On the other hand, I do need to learn patience. When an idea comes to me of something I want to do, I pursue it relentlessly until it happens. I'm not good at letting this one go and wait for a while longer.

My parents also think that a few years from now might be better, particularly since I would have to squeeze the trip in between classes for my paralegal certificate.

I feel guilty because I know I don't deserve this trip, I don't have a right to it, and I'm over-privileged as it is. My parents have done more for me than most would.

But I can't help wanting it.

These two drives are tearing me, one direction is my desire to go to India and the other direction is feeling that I haven't earned it. I feel trapped.

Letting go of desire is an important part of Hinduism and I might have to start practicing it!

Things are still up in the air now as my parents talk to their Indian friends to get their opinions. So far the two we spoke to said I should wait until school is over and I should go with someone I know for protection. The only reason I don't want to wait for school to be over is that as soon as it ends, I will be starting at a full time job and it will take years to save up enough vacation time to make a trip to India reasonable. As for protection, I trust that the organization I go with will keep me safe and provide me with other people to do things with.


  1. Hi there,

    Stumbling upon your blog is surreal. Anyway, I would not recommend you to come here alone at all. It is a dangerous country for foreign women especially if you are white. Moreover the heat now-a-days is unbearable to say the least and the summer season haven't even set in yet. The next two months are going to be even hotter. Please do not come to India now. Also even when you do come, have a male company by your side. I do not want that a women visitor has some unpleasant experience in my country. I am currently residing in Chandigarh (UT) India.

    Though my country is beatiful but for women it is not a safe country to travel alone. Most of the Indian men regard women as sexual objects and expect them to be submissive. There have been many instances of rape and murder of foreign national (the recent being of a 25 yr Japanese tourist on her way to Gaya in Patna, by the very autorickshaw driver who was taking her to her destination). So be extra careful.

    I wrote an article for foreign nationals visiting India in 2008, you can check it on my blog (entry is or I will paste it here. The formatting is not too good as I just pasted it here, it is a 10 point advisory by the way. Here it is:

    "Well for all the foreign nationals visiting India there are few points that you must strictly adhere to if you do not want to turn your Indian picnic into a nightmare. Women travelers should be extra cautious while visiting India. Crime against women is a norm in India.
    Never ever fall into a trap if some one tries desperately to befriend you.
    Stay clear of secluded spots.
    Do not travel or party late nights. Call of a night at max 11:00 pm. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
    Most guides and travel agents will try to rip off so cross check with your fellow Indian travelers with the correct fares and prices of commodities.
    Be extra cautious about your baggage and guard against even children, as in the garb of their innocent looks they will make do with your booty.
    Stay away from cheap accommodation. In the past 3-4 years there have been many instances of rape by the staffers of these cheap hotels (or motels as they are called in the US).
    For female travelers, it is better if they have a male company otherwise it is very dangerous to tour India. Also for the female travelers, despite the hot weather it is always advisable to wear clothes that cover most of your body as it eliminate any unwarranted attention from some (in fact most) Indian men with hight testosterone drives.
    Drink only bottled water. Some good one are BISLERI, AQUAFINA, KINGFISHER etc. Insist on these two as other ones are cheap duplicates that compromise both on your money and health.
    Do not try the street food because only Indian people have the digestive system to filter this stuff.
    Lastly if you are traveling with your teen aged children (especially girls), make a point that they are with you all the time. The case in point is the molestation of British girls by some Keralite hooligans on the new years night 2008 and the more recent Scarlette Keeling murder case.
    Being an Indian citizen it is my responsibility that whoever visits my country has a pleasant and happy time. It absolutely disgust me to see violent crimes being committed against tourist especially women. The above 10 points are to be kept in mind by any traveler visiting India and believe me it will nullify at least 70 percent chance of the tourist getting into trouble. I think Women travelers should strictly follow the above 10 points to ward off any unnecessary hiccups in their visit to India. The rest is up to the destiny of the individual travelers.
    Lastly and most importantly, follow your intuition and gut feeling because even the airports are not safe in India. This is proven by the fact that cases of molestation are common place at the IGI airport New Delhi."

    Best Wishes

    LUCKY (My pet name)

  2. Wow! Now, I hope Lucky's comments didn't diminish your enthusiasm. However, what he said is true to a large extent. I grew up in India but I now live in the US (it has been a little over a decade now). The decision to travel is entirely yours but, here's a tip: Keep your expectations low. And I mean real low. That way you might not be overly disappointed in your encounters with charlatans, crooks, thieves and frauds when you get there. The image of Hinduism that you have in your mind is idealistic. It takes on different contortions back in the homeland.

    Having said all that, there are a ton of good people as well. The experience would blow your mind, either positively or negatively: it wouldn't be "ho-hum" for sure. Avoid going there in the summer though. The heat is way beyond what most Americans would have experienced here. Good luck with your future trip.

    Take care,

  3. Maybe I'm giving myself too much credit, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what real life is like in India. I had an ex-boyfriend, though, who thought every other person there would be a sadhu!