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I have been privileged. I have done what most of my peers could only
dream of doing and more importanlty I have done it in the Homeland.
I have eaten a Tangri Kebab. It was delicious.
Welcome to New Delhi, the bustling capital at the forefront of the 2nd
biggest nation on the globe. Though I have only been here a week (I
started writing this a few weeks ago) I have come to love the vibrant
energy of the city. Its vast network of bazaars selling anything from
jalebi to "rolex's" is awesome, as is the culture (and architecture)
influenced largely by the previous Hindu and (to a great degree)
Muslim rulers. I am also thankful that I have not had a case of the
shits yet, even more so since I have no immodium on me.
So onto the trip. Delhi is massive and there is loads to see. I
enjoyed my one week there, and it was great having dad as a guide
taking me around to the cool places and, more importanly, paying for
Tomi, my friend from Japan joined us shortly after and we began our
whistle-stop tour of India, starting with Agra, home to the world
famous Taj Mahal.
I am usually unimpressed by major tourist attractions, prefering to
find hidden gems and more interested in absorbing the atmosphere of a
place. But even I could not help but be awed by the beauty of the Taj.
The last time I was here I (apparently) was more interested in chasing
squirrels, but this time Tomi and I ended up staying here for about 3
hours, talking to random Japanese women and chilling in he gardens.
Agra Fort was also imprssive. I thought that it would be boring and I
wasn't even sure that I would get in after arguing with the ticket
booth person about whether I was Indian or not. After a fake indian
accent and insisting that I was from Delhi he finally let me in. (the
accent didnt work in the Taj though and i was reduced to being a
Next stop. Varanasi. This place is famous throughout India and is a
major spiritual base. Tourists and pilgrims come from miles to see
this place, especially the aged who believe that dying here will
liberate them from Moksha, the cycle of birth and death.
Personally I thought it was crap. And luckily Tomi did too. And so we
headed north to Sarnath, where we crashed in a Japanese Temple for the
night. The place was quiet and serene, a world apart from what I had
become used to since arriving in India. Apart from the 6am wake up
call for morning meditation I really loved this place, and it was a
shame we had to leave after only a night and a day.
Next stop was Bodgaya, the place of Buddha's enlightenment. It was a
nice place, with the tiny village centering around a temple and the
tree where Mr. Buddha decided to become a dude and start a new
religion. Tomi and I did some more meditation here, where I had to try
as hard as I could not to fall asleep (our train was meant to come at
1:45 the previous morning, but had been 3 hours late, meaning we had
had a bad sleep). Tomi and I then hung out with 2 kids who insisted on
being our unofficial giudes (12 and 14 yrs old). They also liked
discussing philosophy - cool but unusually. I could never imagine a 14
yr old in the UK talking about philosophy, perhaps doing dope or
smoking behind a public toilets somewhere.
Kolkata was next on the list but only for 2 days. Tomi and I split up
temporarily. I went to see Mother Teressa's first Missionary and Tomi
went and saw a Hindi movie which he loved. It was also interesting
walking through a Communist Party Rally dedicated to some guy called
A long 26 hour train journey to Chennai to see my friend from
university followed. What a great host! Tomi and I really enjoyed our
time down south where we saw some fantastic beaches and went swimming
in the Bay on Bengal. A night on the town also beckoned, where I
FINALLY met some good looking Indian ladies (that doesn't include the
Indian ladies back home!) . The Indian nightclub was a blast and after
partying the night away we finally made it home in the wee hours of
It was also in Chennai that a curious policeman started telling me how
Bill Gates was Indian...I never knew that.
After almost continuous travel for 2 days Tomi and I finally made it
to Dehra Dun, situated on the foothills of the Himalayas. I was hoping
to get away from the rushed city life here but it wasn't to be so Tomi
and I headed even further north to Mussoorie. We were hoping to have
some peace and quiet for a bit but it wasn't to be...this week was
India's Independence anniversary and also included a religious day, so
the place was packed and not at all what we were expecting.
We were going to head back to Dehra Dun, having given up finding a
hotel (except for the fancy places charging extortionate prices), but
then we met 5 other travellers in the same predicament as us. Coming
together like a kebab and nan bread we decided to head back into the
Hill Station to find a place to put all of us up...and after an hour
of looking (including one "hotel" that couldn't put us up because we
were the 1st foreigners to ask to stay and they didnt have the
appropriate forms) we finally found one. Then the 7 of us went out.
Hooking up with other travellers was great. In our group were 2 Danes,
1 German (nicknamed David after his impromptu singing of David
Hasselhof songs), an Irish guy who has been travelling the world for
years going from one teaching job to the next), a Japanese guy, me and
a Dutch guy (27 yrs old), who's inability to make it back to the hotel
in time when he had the shits resulted in him actually shitting his
pants! hahaha! the joys of indian food....
The next day the group headed to Kempty Falls, a beautiful waterfall
in the middle of nowhere. Despite the large crowds we found a nice
place where there were no other people. The water was clean and we
could finally clean ourselves. For the first time since reaching North
India it finally felt like we had escaped the cities.
The group split up soon after that, all of us going our separate ways,
and the Dutch guy deciding to stay in a hotel for a few days to let
his "problem" pass and thus avoid any more accidents. I also found out
from one of them that Jesus died in India, in Srinagar, after
"surviving" the cruxifiction....hhhmmmm
And now I am in Rishikesh staying with an uncle who I do know and who
can get me things muh cheaper.
This is chilling time before Tomi finally heads back to Japan in a few days.
As for me, I dont know what my next step is. The recent problems in
the UK (hope it didn't affect anyone receiving this email) as well as
worsening relationships between India and Pakistan in the last month
has made this an especially bad time for me to travel to Pakistan.
What's more I am not sure that I will even be given a visa in which
case all my plans are screwed.
So that's the India trip so far. There have been highs and
unfortunately a few lows. The touts are annoying as hell and it would
give me great pleasure to have a ban on touts that piss tourists off.
More importantly however, poverty is widespread and there should be no
place for it in the modern world. Well done to Bono (no doubt an
Indian), Bill Gates and everyone else who is trying to make a
difference in the world today. If you ever come to India please give
your money to recognised charities. Your money will go further there
than simply giving to beggars on the street, where your money will
only solve their short-term problems.
I am sorry for the length of this email, as well as my lack fo
replying to people. I will get around to you shortly. I am having
difficulty updating the wesbite but I'll get it sorted as soon as
possible, along with pictures.
Take care one and all
ps book recommendation - Q & A. I forget the author but it was a
fantastic read and gave me a great insight into the real India so
visible now after my last month of travelling