Sunday, November 8, 2009

Holy Cow. India was amazing. And holy cow-- literally there were holy cows everywhere. For those of you who don't know the cow is one of the many sacred animals of India, so they wander about freely living better than most of the humans in India do. They cross the streets as they please, wander through train stations, and we were constantly dodging them through the mad traffic that was India.


The second I stepped outside to the front of the boat- I could smell it. A peculiar mix of dirt and incense reeked among the ocean as I was greeted with a hazy morning. It’s 5am and I’m up to see the sunrise before we port in India at 8. Just by the smell, I knew this place was going to be one of the most interesting ports. At 9am the ship was cleared and we were literally chucked out into the streets. I found myself on a motorized rickshaw where driving down the roads felt more like a video game than actual reality. They say that if you love India, it will love you back, but if you hate India, it will hate you back twice as hard. Well after five minutes- I was in love.


Later that day, I hopped on a bus with my travel group and headed to the airport. I was extremely nervous about flying in this country. Expecting things to be dirty and crowded, I pictured myself riding in the back of a non air-conditioned plane, crammed in between smelly Indians with chickens on my lap. However, as I boarded the plane-- I was pleasantly surprised. Flying in India is 20 million times better than flying in America. They give you full course meals (chocolate dessert included) on every flight..even if its only for 45 minutes. And behind each headrest is a TV that has video games, 50 movies, and all sorts of TV shows you can watch FOR FREE while you fly. So on my two and a half flight to New Delhi, I played who wants to be a millionaire, watched friends, hannah montana, and a bollywood musical. Life was good. The next stop was our hotel which was also a pleasant surprise. As we walked in the front door of this Ritz like mansion hotel, we were greeted with glasses of orange fanta, bendhi dots for our foreheads, and orange flower lays (can’t spell?). I had one of the best meals of my life in that hotel. The next morning it was up at 4am to catch the 5 o'clock train to Agra. After a 4:30am traffic jam on the way to the train station, I realized that India never sleeps. The train station in itself was quite the experience. I saw poverty at its absolute worst. In all the other countries, people were poor, but in India... people are hungry. It was alot to take in. I couldn't really grasp it. Children smothered me begging for food and money and you soon realize that giving them things almost makes it worse. After giving one little girl my breakfast, she got tackled to the ground by another kid trying to take it from her. They started pulling each others hair and I stood there helpless in complete shock. It's not fair that they are hungry and I have more food than I know what to do with. It's not fair that these kids don't even know what a toy is, will never own a box of crayons, and are lucky to own a pair of shoes. I want to help. I have to help. So when I get home, I'm figuring out a way to help. But anyways..moving on.


After a 3 hour train ride to Agra, We had a full day of sight seeing that ended with the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life: The Taj Mahal. As I stepped out in front of it for the first time, my mouth actually dropped and I stood there in complete and utter aw for about 5 minutes. It actually brought a tear to my eye. It's so much more beautiful, so much more amazing, and so much more emotional than I ever imagined it to be. As I walked into the Taj, things got a little chaotic. The line to actually get inside was forever long, and hundreds of people were pushing and shoving to get in first. I was thrown around in a line, shoved in every direction, and after alot chaos, I finally made it through, but was completely separated from my group. As a traveling blonde, you tend to get a lot of attention because well, they just don't see very many of us. I always knew this was true, but as I was walking around the Taj by myself, the attention went to the absolute extreme when one family approached me for a picture. I happily posed with them and began to move on when a couple more families approached me asking for the same thing. I continued to smile with them in photos, but before I knew it I had a mob of people around me pushing and shoving to get a picture with me. Yes me... Why me? I still have no idea but I went with it until the security had to escort me out when things got out of hand. I was late for the bus, but it was a somewhat beautiful mess that I actually enjoyed every minute of.


We finally made it back to our hotel at 11 that night. We had a 4am wake up call the next morning so sleep was somewhat important...but not a necessity. So I and some of the other sassers (SAS lingo) hit the club in our hotel for one of the best nights of dancing I have ever had. Indians know how to rave. And after 30 minutes of sleep, I woke up to head to Varanasi for another outrageous adventure.


Varanasi is the oldest most sacred city in the world. The poverty was outrageous. I saw dead people on the street and people everywhere begging for money and food. Not very easy on the eyes but definitely gives life a new perspective.  I also woke up at 4am to go in a canoe and watch the sunrise religious ceremony on the Ganges River. The people in India believe that dying in the Ganges is the only to reach heaven, so when the people get old they travel to Varanasi to die with hope that their ashes or bodies will be released into the river.  I actually saw people being cremated and dead bodies floating in the water. People bathe in the river every morning as well which was interesting to say the least. The whole experience was extremely shocking but kind of peaceful at the same time. The people in India have so much faith in the world; they worship EVERYTHING and love the earth even though they have nothing.


I also made friends in Varanasi. Wandering the streets, an Indian man approached me saying "Goldie Hawn? Goldie Hawn?" I had no idea what he was talking about until a couple of us decided to follow him to his house shop that he insisted on taking us to. He took us in this room and then the whole Goldie Hawn thing all started to come together. There were pictures of her everywhere. She was in India filming a movie and became friends with the guy who approached me. She had written him and his family so many letters and stayed at their house. Sitting in that tiny room looking at pictures of Goldie Hawn sitting in the EXACT same room, I realized that it really is a small world after all.


India was amazing. There was so much trash, SO many people, and so many smells, colors, sights, and things I had never seen before. I peed in holes, saw people taking poos on the street, and excuse my dirty details but the air was so raunchy that when you blew your nose your boogers were black from all the dirt and soot you had inhaled throughout the day. But my gossshhh I loved the place and can't wait to go back.


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