India - A Feast for the Senses
India is a country you’ll never forget. Once you step out of
the airport and hear the distant echo of beeping rickshaws and bustling cities,
the country begins to take its hold on you. Despite its reputation of being a
dangerous, dirty country, perhaps too chaotic for some - those who take the
time to get to know the magical lands often fall in love with it.
India makes you feel alive. It’s intense, surreal, and vibrant. Sometimes it’s even unfair, it’s challenging, and you’ll see things which will change your perspective forever. Around every corner is something new; a rainbow of colours, fragrant smells of herbs and spices, the buzz of bazaars, diverse cuisines and patterns of beautiful fabrics.
You’ll see rickshaws twisting and turning through the windy roads, just missing someone at every swerve.Your eyes will glimmer in the colorful bright fabrics, beads and textiles. The beauty of the Taj Mahal will look different than the photos you’ve seen so many times before; its white marble walls will shine brightly in the sunshine, commanding your attention. You’ll stare in awe at the mountain views and lush, green landscapes across Kerala and the tropical blue beach paradise of Goa.
But not everything you see will dazzle you with joy. You’ll see the crowds of homeless people sleeping at busy Indian train stations. People will squeeze onto a chair class carriage as they embark on a 48 hour train journey with no room to sit down. Maybe, as you walk down the side streets of Kolkata and see hoards of homeless, hungry children, you’ll realise how lucky you really are.
You’ll hear the endless beeping and revs of tuk tuks and scooters. Chatter in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and English will flow past your ears as you walk through crammed streets. You’ll get used to sound of aggressive shoppers haggling at busy bazaars, the beating thumps of women doing laundry and the passion in religious chants.
Then you’ll bask in the calmness of the birds singing in the empty mountains. You’ll listen to the faint sounds of water rippling while boating through serene backwaters. And as you fall asleep in the desert of the Golden City, you’ll hear nothing but the breeze.
You’ll smell the sweetness of Jasmine flowers which delicately decorate women’s hair, representing hope and spirituality. Cinnamon, ginger, coriander, bay leaves, masala and every pungent spice will fill the air as you pass by a bazaar. The savoury scent of samosas and bhajis, or freshly brewed chai sold by busy street stalls are bound to tempt you.
For every good smell in India there’s a bad. Fish rotting in the burning sun, mounds of rubbish piled high, and walls which reek of urine will be common occurrences. But there’s no need to worry - these smells are quickly masked by the pleasant smell of musky sandal and lavender incense burning from every temple, street corner and house.
You’ll taste diverse, rich and spicy food with interesting contrasts at every corner of the country. Vegetarians will feel like they’re in food paradise and relish in the endless meat-free choices. The varied taste of thalis, homely taste of street food, and curries packed with spices will feed your soul. You’ll find yourself addicted to Indian food, which is always infused with passion.
There’s nothing more heart-wrenching than the touch of an Indian child beggar grasping at your hand or banging on your window for food or money. As you stroke an Indian street dog or cat, you’ll feel their bones poke through their fur; not an inch of fat on their bodies.
A trip to India will change your perspective, it will make you feel lucky, and it will make you want to help. You’ll be inspired by Indian’s hope and joy in the smallest of things, and their humble lifestyles will make you think twice. India - a country of sensory overload.