Embarking on India 

From the book: The book: Our Journey to India by author Sue Mead, 2009

Embarking on India

Reading a book written by a woman who ventured to India a few years ago. The book was borrowed from one of the gals, one of 17 of us, now booked for India next month.  
She packed big rolls of toilet paper in her luggage, took the ferry over to Vancouver for her flight in a January day. Her plan was to go for a month, and take as little in her luggage as she could manage. Insect repellant, laundry powder, instant coffee, clothing, a sleeping bag and travel towel were a few items she had packed and checked through to New Delhi airport. They had a stop at London Heathrow and a previously arranged family meeting so they could go out for a good meal. Nice idea! Then they requested an upgrade and got it! Business class! Wow!  

They indeed popped malaria tablets as prescribed, with some wine and a meal. Oooops, luggage did not arrive as scheduled. They were greeted with pollution, traffic and honking as they rode into town. Not angry honks, just simple communication between vehicles.  
Then children start to swarm their cab. Oh dear … Those faces. Those fingers reaching in the open window. Garbage strewn about and animals foraged. Dogs, cows and goats. Even monkeys!  

Temporary shelters from scraps of cloth and cardboard seem to be homes for local families. Millions of people in unimaginable poverty live in India. Nothing prepares us for this sight.  
(“observe, not judge” would be my new motto to strive for on my upcoming trip. Observe and report to the blog. Shine a light on what I experience. Show up, strong and open. Feel the feelings and try to let them move through. See it, feel it and be changed by it.) Pamela 
Negotiating with a rickshaw before getting in. Know the fare and stick to it. A scarf pulled up over the mouth to reduce the taste of traffic.  
A leg-less beggar man with leprosy grabs at her leg, looking for money. Oh my! She is in tears. Deep breath. A young emaciated girl pushes her baby in their way, looking for a handout. “Young and old, aggressive and meek, leprous and maimed, all seemed to be here, working the crowd. To be found on every corner were vegetable stands, fortune tellers, sweet sellers, chai stalls, ear cleaners, pick pockets and holy cows.”  
Remember to bring a plug for the sink! For a wash …. And have a shower when you get a chance … Otherwise maybe do without? And “wash up” from a bucket. Argh …. 
(This book and the writing style, describing almost unbelievable experiences leave emotions raw … Very sad and then laugh out loud!) Pamela 
For two dollars an hour they hire a driver and car to take them around. The price for foreigners and locals is different, $.25 locals, $2.50 foreigners. Keep he difference and your privilege in mind! Foreigners are fortunate enough to pay even that higher sum.  
Trying to find clothes that fit the North American woman body shape seems more of a challenge, for the gal who lost her luggage in flight. Seems some locals wear jeans! I wonder where they purchase them?  
Eating, dining, always with the right hand and sitting on the left to keep it out of the way and not tempted to use left as a utensil! And the trick is to learn to not have sauce half way up the arm.  
How does one enjoy a vacation alongside the poverty, injustice and oppression? It seems the caste system is alive and visible to all that visit this country. Are there no social programs? And what do people get outraged about, if not human suffering in their midst? Humility and privilege … To find balance.  
One of the personal growth qualities to work on when planning a trip to India is patience. Develop and practice patience.  


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