Why India? India must be on most people’s travel list. Maybe it’s because of the colonial history, maybe because we’ve seen it on the TV, or because you just want to go to the home of curry. Or even just because it’s there and you can’t help but see it on the map, although it’s dwarfed by the expanses of Russia and China it seems more accessible, warmer and welcoming.
India has over 1 billion people and is the seventh largest country by area. There are 17 major languages spoken and over 800 dialects: you can’t describe India without using the word diverse!
So perhaps this is why people want to go. But that’s everyone else. For me, why did I go to India? I suffer from itchy feet, not of the athlete’s foot variety, but the yearning/desire to visit other places. To be there, to see what’s going on, find out what’s the same and what’s different.
And India was part of this – on my ever changing, ever expanding list of countries to visit and its time was due. It hadn’t surfaced sooner because it was too big, too busy, too poor – just too difficult and I can’t remember why these judgements shifted but they were. The seed was sown, the idea grew and flights were booked.
Probably not enough research, probably too much advice from people who had been there before and gradually an itinerary was formed. Don’t build this out of proportion, it was still only a short holiday, not a Big Travelling Experience, but I was due to cover around 2,000 miles – pretty much the length of the country. I chose to travel by train and with Indian Railways, the world’s largest employer taking charge, what could possibly go wrong.
I expected it to be hot, busy, colourful, noisy and utterly enchanting. On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, these expectations were not met: the airport was calm, clean, and quiet. But once out of the airport environment, thankfully, that all changed.