First Impressions of India

Before leaving on this trip, I had a variety of different reactions from people when I told them where I was going. From people that had been here before, I got: “You’re going to love it, but prepare yourself, it’s unlike any other place in the world.” But from most people, I got: “You’re going there by choice?” or “Is it even safe for you to travel there?” Traveling for me, especially in the recent years, has really become more and more about pushing my personal limits and stepping outside my comfort zone, and I knew India would do just that.

As we landed in Delhi a few days ago (November 29th), I started to mentally prepare myself. After basically two days of airplanes and airports, it hadn’t really sunk in that I was heading to India until I touched down and heard the pilot welcome us. We were here and despite being jet-lagged and exhausted, I was still feeling a bit anxious and nervous about what awaited us outside of those sliding doors past immigration.

In my mind, I pictured people rushing over to us from every direction trying to sell us everything but the kitchen sink, but the truth was, it was nothing like that. We headed out of departures, and followed the sign to the airport express/metro. We had one clinger who was trying to offer us a cheap ride to the city, but we stood our own and headed to the ticket booth, and hopped on the train that would drop us off at the New Delhi station.

I pictured the train being this rusty mess, with people hanging off the sides, but it was similar to the airport to downtown train we have in Toronto. It was clean, modern, and easy! When we walked above ground, out of the train station, that’s when it hit us… we were now officially in Delhi, and it was overwhelming, dusty, smoggy and did I say overwhelming? From cattle crossing the road, to people and traffic coming from every direction, it’s hard to wrap your head around how having minimal rules of the road can actually work, but it does.

Our first steps out of our hostel and actually attempting to explore the surrounding area of Old Delhi, where we were staying, was overwhelming but at the same time, significantly less stressful then I first imagined. The bizarre thing is, the chaos going on around you, from the people, to the dirt and garbage on the ground, to the traffic flying from everywhere, this city should stress you out, but for me, it was almost like my senses were overloaded to the point that you were beyond being stressed.

Another post you may be interested in reading: “A Reality Check in India”

It wasn’t until we headed out of Delhi towards Jaipur that I think it really hit me that I was in India and what was happening around me. I sat with bug eyes on the bus as we passed through village after village, and watched the poverty from the countryside switch to the hustle and bustle of the city of Jaipur. As we pulled into the city, I watched a tiny little girl play dress up in her mothers sari on the side of the road, running around in bare feet beside piles of trash which served as the cattle, pigs and dogs lunch. Animals that seem so at peace, and immune to the chaos around them, despite the fact that back at home in Canada, a city street would be no place for them.

As we walked through the streets of Jaipur, it was madness in every direction. You can’t even for a second, stop and think or daydream, you have to be aware 24/7. We watched locals as they purchased their fresh chicken, and by fresh I mean the chicken was killed, de-feathered and skinned right there on the side of the road, so close to traffic that if a rickshaw or tuk tuk cut a corner a little too tight, there would be a mess of chickens everywhere. The thing about India is that they don’t seem to think about the what-ifs. India thinks about what works then and there and they do it. I live in a first world country that worries about everything and has rules and regulations for everything, a country that tries so hard to be perfect, when India just figures out what works for them, and goes with it.. a quality that every country should admire in some weird way.

India, I still have so much left to explore while I’m here, and I can’t wait to see what else you have to offer.

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  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Amazing post! Hope you’re having fun!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Glad you were able to dispel some misleading notions about India..hope you enjoy your stay and be safe:)

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Enjoy your trip! When you get back, I’d love to read about your experience as a female traveler. How “on guard” do you have to be and/or how hassled were you? Would your opinion change if you were truly solo vs. with a group tour? Good or bad, that’s something I’m interested in because I have stereotypes in my head and not sure if they are deserved or not.

    • Reply
      December 18, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks for reading Becky. To be honest, I felt safe the entire time I was there, even though people stare at you and take pictures of you constantly, for the most part, they mind their own business. I think though that I would encourage others that are nervous to go on a group tour. I went with G Adventures and I’m happy I did. Once I saw India, I realized how hard of a country it is to travel alone (whether female or not). It’s hard to navigate, and every time we went off on our own, we got lost. Of course that’s part of the fun with traveling but I think doing it completely alone would be really hard and exhausting. I think even if I went back now, I’d go with a small group too! But like I said, if you’re brave enough, it is relatively safe with the exception of some scams you’ll run into like any other Asian country! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Ah, I really want to visit India! Sounds intriguing so far – enjoy!

    • Reply
      December 18, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      It was absolutely crazy and life-changing. Stay tuned for more posts and pictures coming soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Bethaney - Flashpacker Family
    December 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Interesting! I’m thinking of heading to India next year but might go it alone as it sounds so overwhelming for little kids.

    • Reply
      December 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Let me know if you end up going! We did meet a family that was traveling with kids but yes, it’s very overwhelming and may be a bit much for both you and the kids. Let me know if you decide to go 🙂

  • Reply
    December 30, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I can relate a lot to this! When I went to India back in September, the country constantly kept me on my toes. One minute, I would think I had things figured out. But then the next minute, India would turn everything on its head again! People would come up to us on the street, and I would say to myself, “Oh boy, put your ‘no face’ on.” But in fact, most of the time, people were just curious and wanted to know where we were from and what we were doing. Overall, I don’t think I’ve been to many places that have left me feeling so uncertain about what’s lying around every corner!

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