been in India just over two weeks now and in that time I have had
more unique experiences than I think I have had in my 20 years prior
to coming here. I have spent time in the capital city Delhi, but also
spent over 100 hours travelling in far from luxurious conditions over
the length of the country. I have met people from all reaches of the
world, all of whom have a different perspective on this charismatic
country. A wise Englishman gave me one piece of advice, "Expect
nothing and be prepared for everything" and there has never been
a truer word spoken.
been in India 10 minutes when the car broke down. AIESEC members
had picked me up from the airport, and we were on our way into the
city. Before we had come to a standstill in the middle of the crossroads,
I had been gripping the handle above my head tightly.
seemed so unstructured and even crazy to my western eyes. There
seemed to be no concept of lanes, overtaking could only be described
as random and risky and although traffic lights existed, they seemed
to be widely ignored.
first thing I noticed as we started to push the car to the side
of the road, just next to the ubiquitous cow, was the power of the
heat. Sweat was being produced by the gallon and I felt quite drowsy.
This was no time to be un-alert though, as the other cars, motorbikes
and rickshaws swerved round us narrowly missing as if they were
totally oblivious to our situation. When the car started again I
had been in India nearly half an hour.
ride to Bangalore
train journey to Bangalore had been talked about with great fear
ever since I had arrived - 44 hours, third class with no air conditioning.
the four days I had been in India, I had tried a lot of Indian food,
so it was unfortunate that I had to get my first taste of 'Delhi
Belly' on the same day as such a mammoth journey. Wired on medicine,
I set off to Bangalore with my new Indian friends.
on a bunk
were lucky because we had reserved bunks on the train, but many
others weren't so lucky. Before long the train was more crowded
than a rush hour tube. The floor was littered with sleeping bodies,
and bunks were filled with as many as six people.
I woke up after the first night people were sitting round me on
my bed, simply because they had no where else to be. Although this
might sound like a quite unpleasant experience, I was loving every
minute - simply because it was so different to anything I had ever
is a great city. There are areas which are so cosmopolitan and commercial
- you might mistake them for being on Piccadilly Circus or Times
Square. However it does not lose any of its Indian charm. I was
lucky enough to see a great deal of the city when a rickshaw I was
taking got lost. The driver spent the next 45 minutes driving round
asking pedestrians for directions! It's all part of the experience...
at the conference
AIESEC Indian National Conference was one of the most fulfilling
experiences I have had. AIESEC members from all over India had come
together for one week in Bangalore.
really brought home the diversity of India, with the south being
so different to the north, in terms of language food and culture.
Despite these differences it was really refreshing to be so far
from home, living in such a different reality and to still find
a group of people so forward-looking and open-minded.
friends (Andrew's at the back)
people have been amazing to me ever since I got here. They've been
so welcoming, taking me into their homes and feeding me more food
than any man could ever eat. Everyone I have met has been so interested
in finding out more about me and the UK, and they are always keen
to share their own culture. In any situation that could be potentially
intimidating, my new friends have reassured me and made me feel
as safe as I would feel in my own home.
some of the experiences I have described might sound a bit out of
the ordinary, I have enjoyed every one. It is experiences like these
that give India so much character and make it such an addictive
place to be. I feel like I have been on a twenty day adventure,
where the 'normal' is definitely the unexpected.
only a quarter way through my trip, so who knows what tomorrow will
bring let alone the next six weeks. One things for sure though,
I can't wait to find out.
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by Andrew Webster