I hope India is one of the countries on your travel list, because it’s a unique life experience!
I believe that is the kind of trip were you need to be mentally prepared, to fully enjoy it and to be able to absorve and appreciate your surroundings.
To begin with you need to remember that India is the world’s second-most populous country in the world… it’s a “ticking time bomb.” Its economy is not growing fast enough to create the 20 million new jobs per year they will need to prevent poverty increasing further.
So yes… India is poor, dirty, crowded…and yet people are happier and nicer than a lot of places where poverty is a man’s choice.
So please try, at least one of these things that I believe will change the way you see the world, or at least it did to me.
1. Absorve all your surroundings!
Get all your senses ready for the adventure, grab a camera, comfy clothes a bottle of water and start walking. No matter where you go in India you will find its streets filled with beautiful colours, spices and smiles.
In general indian people are very curious and you will find yourself soon having conversations with everyone, taking pictures with randomers and negotiating.
India is the land of spirituality and philosophy so get rid of all your judgements and learn from its rich cultural diversity. This is also caused by the coexistence all the different types of religions.
Be as curious as them and start asking about their traditions and rituals, and if you have the opportunity join them, watch and learn.
I highly recommend you to watch and follow the example of this amazing documentary made by Joey L and his crew. Involve yourself with the communities and enjoy.
2. Do some voluntary work!
Due to work reasons I did not have the time to voluntary work while in India, but one of my best friends decided to lose her flight back home to work helping kids in a school for a couple months.
“It was the best decision I ever made in my life, it was such rewarding experience” Linnea Englund said.
We met on our journey these cool guys that were heading to Food For Life in Vrindavan to help children getting their education sponsored.
All this kids come from families who monetarily don’t have the ability to send them to public school. This amazing association helps them having an education, provides them medical assistance and distributes 66,000 meals a month.
Here’s one of the great videos that my friends Drew Pearson, Bart Jolley, Linnea Englund and Jonathan Patrick Adams produced in Food For Life:
3. Go to an Indian Festival!
India with its rich cultural and spiritual diversity, festivals are at the heart of people’s lives. Experiences like nowhere else in this world.
Diwali “Festival of Lights” represents the start of the Hindu New Year. Filled with fireworks, small clay lamps, and candles that are lit during the celebrations. These lights represent the victory of good over evil, and brightness over darkness. Just beautiful!
Kumbh Mela, the largest peaceful gathering in the world. Each site’s celebration is based on particular zodiacal positions of the Sun, the Moon, and Jupiter, the holiest time occurring at the exact moment these zodiacal conditions are fulfilled. Bathing at this moment is believed to generate the greatest religious merit.
Holi “Festival of Colors” is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, as well as the abundance of the spring harvest season. In this occasion people throw colored powder and water all over each other, have parties, and dance under water sprinklers. Stunning!
Here I only mention my favourite ones but there are many more, to see full list, click here.
4. Get on third class train or bus for at least five hours!
You can’t leave India without surviving a ride on a third class wagon! It’s cheap and fun. It’s absolutely packed but everybody is super friendly.
People get on and off so you will meet so many interesting personalities. Often you will meet Hijras passing by giving blessings to random passengers. Food also will roll on during all your journey, and I highly recommend you to try some of the interesting dishes that pass constantly all around Indian rails.
So meet people, eat and enjoy the ride!
5. Eat Indian street food!
I know a lot of guide books would forgive you to do this and will advise you to stuck to good looking restaurants where you have Indian and Chinese choices. I disagree, if you don’t risk it at least once you will be missing one of the most amazing things about Indian cuisine.
Momos are my favourite!
Only one tip… Make sure that is warm and spicy! (Chillies kill bacteria)