It looks fine on the website, but where are all the people?

It looks fine on the website, but where are all the people? Photo: Maharajas Express.

Mevrouw T, a dyed-in-the-wool Bollywood fan, has always been keen to go to India. I’ve been daunted by the whole idea.

It’s not the heat, the crowds, the chaos, the red tape, the poverty and the potential diarrhoea that have condemned India to my ‘too hard’ basket. We’ve experienced those in other parts of the world. It’s the sheer size of the country and the range of travel options in India that have left me not knowing where to start.

But next week we’ll be dipping our toes into Indian waters and hoping they don’t dissolve.

‘Confronting’ is the word everybody uses, before raving about how their trip to India changed their life. I’m reasonably happy with my life the way it is. I don’t particularly need it remodelled. I’m not looking for a spiritual experience to give it new meaning. People we know who’ve found enlightenment in India usually return to normal hazy dullness and switch back to western clothes within a few months.

But as a friend who’s lived there told us, ‘Every single day you see something amazing.’ That sounds worth doing.

So we’re going. We’ve put in some preparation for the trip. Lonely Planet India is ripped into bite-sized chunks. I’ve downloaded some Indian novels. They’re such long ones the Kindle is looking a little fatter. The road to India is paved with good intentions.

We’ve filled in a lot of forms, queued for the visas, charged the camera batteries and stocked up on mosquito repellent and stomach-bug tablets.

I’ve got myself a short haircut and had a troublesome wisdom tooth pulled. Maybe if I’d waited till next week I could have got both done simultaneously on a street corner in Mumbai, while a tailor measured me for a suit with extra pair of trousers at very reasonable price to you sir.

The centrepiece of our adventure will be riding on the Maharajas Express, an eight-day, seven-night train journey from Mumbai to Delhi, stopping off at various sites and sights (yes, of course the Taj Mahal is one) along the way.

We’ve been assured we’ll have seats and won’t have to cling to the roof.

It sounds terrific and will no doubt fill this blog for some time. More soon. Meanwhile, all general sub-continental travel advice and suggestions of things to see, do or avoid in Mumbai will be gratefully accepted.

For further information on the rail itinerary, click HERE.


Filed under India

16 responses to “WHY WE’VE NEVER BEEN TO INDIA

  1. You, sir, are a brave man.


  2. Op de fiets door Mumbai? Nou dat is een uitdaging, Richard! Ik zou het graag willen proberen, voor de bragging rights.

  3. I lived there for two years with my parents when I was a child of ten. I found it traumatizing and mesmerizing and everything else, all at once. Good on you, Richard. I’m looking forward to your posts.

  4. Ina

    Look forward to your stories

  5. What an adventure you have planned, I have no tips for travelling there, have never been adventurous enough to go to India. All the best for your travels and I look forward to reading all about it.

    • Thanks John, Ina and TBD. We feel slightly fraudulent doing India through organised tours, rather than sleeping with the bedbugs in 3rd class hotels and train compartments. But it’s sure to be an adventure however we do it.

  6. I visited India in 1986 and it is a country like no other, amazing only scratches the surface. With their surging economy I wonder if they have fixed the sanitary arrangements on the trains yet. I look forward to your posts and what ever else you do, do not put ice in your “happy hour” tiffin…

  7. Ah, another “rip into chunks” travel guide kindred spirit! My parents returned from a trip to India earlier this year said it was almost too overwhelming from all sensory perspectives to put into words.

    • Actually Lonely Planet came from a friend, pre-ripped. Sorry to hear it’s hard to put overwhelming India into words; that’s what I’ll be trying to do. Fortunately I have a camera too.

  8. Bon voyage, Richard. As you know, we went with an organised tour, and I don’t think that made eh trip one bit less interesting. I’m looking forward to your finding the words.

  9. I loved India. It is confronting and the poverty will break your heart. I came home and immediately sponsored a little girl. The people are delightful…the best thing about India, and the sights are amazing. We went to the wedding of 2 Indian friends and met people from all walks of life. I would go back in a heart beat. Have a great time!

  10. Marija mars

    Super om te lezen! Ben zeer benieuwd! Prima droom voer voor mij!

  11. Hazel Jeannes

    Richard and Mev. T, think you may have cheated a bit by doing an organised tour, however, why not do it in comfort, 3 years ago I backpacked part of the north for 5 weeks, using local transport, staying with a family, using a bucket in lieu of a shower etc. Was the hardest backpacking I have ever done to date even coming from South Africa, a third world country. With reference to pommepal, seemingly sanitary arrangements must be the same as in 1986 because they couldn’t be worse anywhere. Wonderful country nevertheless, happy, vibrant, lovely, colourful people, full of fun, not wanting to anyone else but who they are. Hazel

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