Let’s start with the disclaimers: I’ve spent ‘only’ 7 weeks in India divided over roughly 10 locations in the south (heavily influenced by the Portugese, French, Dutch and obviously the Brits).
I skipped the big cities and tourist traps like the Taj Mahal during my stopover in Delhi. My meaningful interactions with ‘locals’ have, unfortunately, mostly been with westernized Indians, as in the south it’s difficult to escape the tourist trail (or I looked in the wrong places).India: you love it or you hate it. And I do neither. I’ve met great people, seen fantastic things, spend an enlightening time in a monastery, ate some of the best fish ever, while spending approximately 30 euro/day including flights in and out. However, India’s culture of indifference isn’t for me. Outside touristic areas people hardly speak English, and the multitude of languages, dialects and heavy accents make it hardly worth the effort of mastering one. Like everywhere in Asia, travel is a pain, but except for one gruesome 20hr trip it has been relatively smooth. Haggling starts to get on my nerves, but I guess I’d better get used to it. Fortunately, I haven’t had a serious case of ‘Delhi Belly’, despite eating almost everything everywhere (except on trains and busses). This was only my first visit to India and I’ll definitely return to see the north. Tomorrow I’ll leave India for Cambodia, which will be a very different experience. Not only is this country still hounted by its gruesome past, but I’ll be finally reunited with Taina as well.