I was so nervous before I left for India. Everyone kept telling me to “be careful” implying the worst.
In some ways, they were right.
I got food poisoning and spent 2 days staying close to the toilet.
Our train car caught on fire the second day, while we were on it.
I was woken up at 5:00 am by very loud music. Several times. Including the night I had food poisoning.
Toilet paper? Hahahaha.
We called the front seat the “death seat” as that person had the clearest view of our imminent demise.
A 12-year-old boy rubbed my butt inside the Taj Mahal. Another woman in our group got groped in the middle of the day in Jaipur.
I had to push through large, noisy crowds to get anywhere. Often with men yelling “Where are you from?” or trying to sell me something.
But none of this bothered me much at all.
I was lucky that nothing seriously dangerous or harmful happened to me.
And I have a lot of privilege as a white, able-bodied, heterosexual-appearing, comparatively wealthy foreigner. (It helped me avoiding the very real problems many Indians have to deal with every day.)
So if you are lucky enough to be travelling in India, your attitude becomes an exercise in choice. What are you going to focus on?
I was surprised at how fast I stopped being bothered by noise and attention. I started finding it all calming in a strange way, as it forced me to be in the moment and adapt.
Yes, other people took up a lot of space. But I started taking up more space too.
And with no qualifiers….
I loved the bright colours and chaos.
And the insane traffic.
And the food.
I made unexpected connections and deepened friendships.
I was awed by the beautiful buildings, art and landscapes.
In the end, the only thing I really had to be careful about was not wanting to get on my plane home.
Oh and camels. One should always be careful of camels.