Thank you - Manny, Balu, and everyone at Worldwide Adventures - for helping me see India with new eyes! And, it was through the eyes of India’s people that I caught a glimpse of her soul!
A land with over a billion people and thousands of years of history is inscrutable, yet, with time, explanation, and able guides, the visitor can move from stereotypes and prejudices and get closer to the actual pulse of India as it makes progress. It is important to see the major attractions – Delhi, the Taj Mahal, the Gate of India, Gandhi Memorials, the free range cows, and the Jantar Mantar – but it is when one walks the less traveled roads that a more clear, a truer, picture develops.
Worldwide took me on rickshaw rides through old Delhi, a hive of businesses, and Jaipur, the Pink City; to a village school with dirt floors and 400 eager students; to a family hut in the desert of Rajasthan with a dung floor courtyard; to the metropolis of Mumbai where extremes coexist; and to the backwaters of Kerala where I saw two Hindu processions – the line of white-clad pilgrims holding flickering candles, the chants of the devotees, and a decorated elephant were wonders to behold! With well-organized travel arrangements, I flew from Jodhpur to Mumbai to Kochi to Delhi to experience the diverse flora, fauna, customs, dress, tastes and aromas of India!
I had a turban fashioned on my head! I got to wear the multi-functional thorth! I was paddled in a long boat serenaded by three villagers! I was given a jubba and mundu to wear for dinner at the home of a family in Kochi! I rode an elephant up to the Amer Fort and Palace! I stayed in a tent; rode into the sunset on a camel; had samosas and tea; and enjoyed local traditional Indian song, music, and dance with the Holi stick and drum performance while having wine and appetizers – all on the Thar Desert! I marveled at a demonstration of Kalarippayattu, a martial arts form indigenous to Kerala, and was entranced by the traditional dance – Kathakali - meaning story play. Although I bought some souvenirs from the street people, Worldwide took me to selected venues with quality merchandise. I bought a puppet’s wood hand (circa 1850) in the Arala Hasta gesture as well as two Kashmir scarves. I relaxed with a full-body, four-hand Indian massage! I learned from knowledgeable guides, stayed in comfortable accommodations, savored a variety of dishes, and I returned smiles and waves to a mostly friendly people! I was even asked to pose for photographs with some locals! I even got to photograph the Vechur cow, the smallest cattle breed in the world which was saved from extinction!
India is too vast, too diverse, too wonderful to take in several visits, let alone one, but, thanks to Worldwide Adventures, I returned home after two weeks with a better feel for an oft maligned country that is working hard to better itself! I took nearly 4000 photographs and kept a journal. I appreciated the flexibility and responsiveness to accommodate individual requests such as my wanting to see a cemetery! The memories I have will coalesce with time, and the impressions I have of Incredible India with be shared with my family and friends! Thank you again, Worldwide Adventures Family, for making all this- and much more - possible and affordable! I look forward to traveling with you again!