Dear India: It’s not me, it’s you.

Dear India: It’s not me, it’s you.

Okay, it’s not you either it’s actually a pesky little thing called a visa. Something I know deep down you won’t take to kindly if I was to ignore the stamp in my passport telling me it’s time to leave.

The captivating Himalayas of Kashmir

The captivating Himalayas of Kashmir

Lunch break on a trek out of Manali

Lunch break on a trek out of Manali

It’s been a strange 6 months to say the least. I could never have dreamed up the surprises you were to deliver. Arriving in Fort Kochi at midnight amongst the smell of the streets which consisted of anything from burning rubbish to delicious street food I was excited and already a little overwhelmed. In the 6 months since, your assault on my senses hasn’t stopped. I’ve been shocked, disgusted, hungry, happy, speechless, frustrated, in fits of laughter but most usually overwhelmed.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

While I found you to be amazing in so many ways, it was often the case that you completely polarised your visitors’ opinions, while I loved one place a fellow backpacker hated it and vice versa. This is the kind of diversity that seems to attract so many of us. 

India's attempt at road safety was a good laugh.

India’s attempt at road safety was a good laugh.

Ahh yeah, about that road safety.

Ahh yeah, about that road safety.

The friendly locals.

The friendly locals.

From paragliding off the cliffs of Varkala, learning to sculpt in Mamallapuram, exploring the absurd landscapes and ruins of Hampi, riding camels through the deserts of Jaisalmer to hiking the Himalayas of Kashmir it seemed that everywhere I turned a new experience was lurking.

Sculpture in Mamallapuram

Learning to sculpt in Mamallapuram

The kindness of the small percentage of your 1.2 billion I’ve had the chance to meet has been amazing and I no longer find it unusual that someone would take the time out of their day to walk me across the city just to make sure I get on my bus safely. Sometimes your eagerness to help went a little too far and on more than one occasion rather than have someone admit they don’t know where something is they’ve pointed me in the completely wrong direction but as with all things it’s the thought that counts.

 

Udaipur, Rajastan

A local man in Udaipur, Rajasthan

Laxman from Rishikesh - a retired trekking guide in the Himalayas now spends his days meditating under a tree.

Laxman from Rishikesh – a retired trekking guide in the Himalayas now spends his days meditating under a tree.

The food! Well what can I say, it was a long way from the westernised version of Butter Chicken that had kicked off my love of Indian food long ago in fact it couldn’t have been more different but all for the better. Out of all the beautiful meals it will be the thali and masala dosas I miss the most.

Indian Food, Thali, Rajasthan

The most unbelievably all you can eat Thali in all of India

Pushkar, Rajasthan

Pushkar, Rajasthan

It’s simply not a country I could ever hope to discover on one 6 months visa which is evident from the people I met returning for their 3rd or 4th or 15th time. It’s a country where no one, no matter how long they’ve lived or travelled there can confidently say ‘I know India’.

It’s confusing and chaotic and often doesn’t make much sense even to the locals but there’s a charm in that.

Early morning fishing in Manali

Early morning fishing in Manali

With that I will board a plane to Thailand taking comfort in the fact you’re still close by.

Goodbye India!

Goodbye India!

Partially Yours Forever,

Nick

16 Thoughts on “Dear India: It’s not me, it’s you.

  1. Such a bittersweet post. Sounds like you’ve had some amazing experiences in the last six months. I will never forget that feeling of being completely overwhelmed and amazed 24/7 when I was in India!
    Catherine recently posted…Leap Into The Land Of The LoughsMy Profile

  2. Great post about a life-changing trip. I hear such mixed reviews about India, though it always sounds interesting to me. Westernized Indian food is good but someday I want to try the real deal!
    Shelley recently posted…Top 3 Secrets for Saving Money on FlightsMy Profile

  3. Great post about a life changing trip. I hear mixed reviews about India though it always sounds fascinating to me. Someday I will get there!
    Shelley recently posted…Top 3 Secrets for Saving Money on FlightsMy Profile

  4. India is one of those places that have a special place in my heart… I don’t know why but I really love my 5 month stay in India especially in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh…

    Safe Travels Nick

    :-)
    flipnomad recently posted…Why Seoul is the #1 Party City in the WorldMy Profile

  5. You’ve made up my mind – I must get to India next year. I’ll only have 2-3 weeks, it’s gonna be rough to narrow it down within the country – so many things to see! Hope you’re enjoying Thailand, can’t wait to hear about what you get into there :)
    Katie recently posted…The Underwater Temple Garden of BaliMy Profile

  6. Love that crazy camel photo. This was a great farewell to India, very heartfelt.
    Charlie recently posted…How to Get a Complimentary Stay as a Travel BloggerMy Profile

  7. I enjoyed reading this. Great photos and I like the way you handled the post!

    Many people I’ve met who have been to India often say they’re ‘still processing’ the experience and that it was, in many ways, a bit overwhelming.

    I may or may not want to go there someday. For now, I’m thinking about a possible trip to Sri Lanka. Have you been there? If so, how’d you like it?
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted…Watermelon Vendor Cooling Off in Front of Cafe, #Cartagena, #Colombia (#Photo of the Day) #ttot #photographyMy Profile

    • I can understand that ‘still processing’ term. You chat to locals and it’s a place they’ll admit they don’t fully understand themselves.
      I was very close to going to Sri Lanka, it was actually part of my original plan but I opted for Thailand instead for no real reason. I’ve met a lot of people that did Sri Lanka and I hear it’s insanely beautiful and diverse for such a small country, the people are lovely and it’s far less chaotic and cleaner than India. I’ve heard both Sri Lanka and Nepal described as all the best parts of India and none of the bad but I wouldn’t have India any other way.
      Nick Paton recently posted…Dear India: It’s not me, it’s you.My Profile

  8. Shubham on August 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm said:

    Amazing write up. This country amazes us locals even after having lived here all our lives, you never know what’s coming next! The North is my favourite part too; Ladakh and Spiti since I learnt travelling solo was the real deal travel-wise.
    Great to know that you accept the country as it is. You shall come again, and will be welcomed with arms wide open ! Haha, crazy and huge nation for all of our whims and fancies.
    Happy travels

    • Thanks Shubham, I remember finding that speaking with the locals that they didn’t understand it either but loved it that way. India is chaotic and crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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