As our absolutely incredible journey through India sadly comes to an end, I wanted to take the time to share with you a few final thoughts. Seven weeks is by far the most amount of time I've ever spent in a country other than my own. No words or photos can truly describe what we saw, how we felt or what we experienced along the way but I hope my stories have offered an in-depth look into what our day to day life has been like. India is dirty, polluted and over crowded (there's no denying that) yet it's fascinating, intriguing, inspiring, amazing and beyond memorable at the exact same time. I can genuinely say I fell in love.
Here are our top ten memories...
Camel safari through the Thar Desert
The food - anywhere, anytime and always
Khem Villas along with seeing the tigers
Watching a cremation in Varanasi
Shashi's cooking class in Udaipur
Watching the sun set almost every night
Riding scooters throughout Goa
Sunrise bike tour in Mumbai
Here are some random observations we gathered...
Everyone has a shop and everyone says "looking is free" but it's really not, there is always a hidden agenda
Being left handed is disrespectful and unsanitary
Men are always showing affection towards one another, which is a sign of friendship and respect
Swastika has a whole different meaning here as the symbol was originally from the Hindu religion before Hitler turned something positive into something negative
We met very few Americans throughout the fourteen cities we visited. The French and Australians win for most traveled.
Five minutes really means thirty minutes
Some locals love taking photos of you and with you. But when you ask to take photos of other locals, they will only allow it for rupees.
There are no cents in the Indian currency so all bills either round up or round down. Why even have items that include cents if you can't pay them?
Despite having 29 states and 7 union territories, the whole country is on the same time zone
There are 22 official languages, English and Hindi being the largest, although I'm pretty sure honking should be number 23
Gandhi is on all the rupees (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000)
Tata owns everything (Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Teleservices, Titan, Tata Communications and Indian Hotels)
There are prayer rooms in airports
We saw more Baskin Robbins in almost every city than Starbucks or McDonalds
Everyone asks you to leave a review online whether it's a hotel, an activity or a restaurant. Sometimes they would even follow up with me via email as a reminder. Business must be competitive these days.
Forming lines, driving and walking all have no flow to them but somehow, it works
Negotiate everything, with respect of course
The phrase personal space means absolutely nothing, which made me realize how much I need my personal space
Men and women have to enter security lines separately at places such as airports and metro stations
Here are some random facts we learned (please don't quote me on these though)...
India is the worlds largest democracy with 1.2 billion people
India invented chess, buttons, the ruler, and shampoo (not the commercial liquid ones we use today but the method by use of herbs. The word 'shampoo' itself has been derived from the Sanskrit word champu, which means to massage)
India is the worlds largest producer of milk
India's name was derived from the Indus River
India was the first country to develop extraction and purifying techniques of sugar. Many visitors from abroad learned the refining and cultivation of sugar from India.
India has the largest number of vegetarians in the world. Be it because of religious reasons or personal choices or both, around 20-40% are vegetarians. And egg is considered non-vegetarian.
There are more road deaths in India than any other country in the world
India is the world's biggest producer and consumer of mangoes
India is the worlds second largest English speaking country, only next to the USA, with around 125 million people speaking the language, which is only 10% of their population. This is expected to grow by quite a margin in the coming years.
India gave the world Yoga, which has existed for more than 5,000 years
India created Martial Arts
Snakes and Ladders originated in India. Earlier known as Moksha Patamu, the game was initially invented as a moral lesson about karma to be taught to children. It was later commercialized and has become one of the most popular board games in the world.
"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only." - Mark Twain
"We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made". - Albert Einstein
Here is a snapshot of what our journey entailed...
2 daytime trains
1 overnight train
5 metro rides
8 road trips of more than three hours from one city to the next
Slept on a train, a plane, a bamboo boat, in the desert under the stars, hotels, AirBnBs and homestays
Our budget was spent on...
50.58% on accommodations
14.03% on food
11.41% on transport
9.69% on flights
9.16% on entertainment
2.69% on tips
2.25% on miscellaneous
.18% on water
Final words for you, India...
Traveling can be exhausting, stressful and sometimes brings out characteristics that you didn't even know you had, not always for the best. But it's so worth being out of your comfort zone to see a whole new world, experience a whole new culture, and live a whole new lifestyle. We have to always strive to better ourselves which will in the end, better the world. I can't thank my grandma enough for giving me a reason to experience this absolutely fascinating place. She traveled her life, visiting almost every country, and India was her favorite. I wanted to come here to see what she saw and fall in love with what she fell in love with. And although it was a love-hate relationship at times, in the end, love always wins. India, you will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was our first time meeting but it certainly won't be our last. Until then, thank you for opening my eyes and my heart to something so unfamiliar. Don't ever change.