I was told by many travelers that India is the one country that can't be compared to any other. They say you can't really prepare yourself for your first visit so expect the unexpected. I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah, I've had this country circled since day one. I've read Lonely Plant posts and Rough Guide articles. I know what to expect. I mean I've been traveling the world for months now.
As soon as I stepped off the plane and into the streets of Mumbai my world changed forever. It was sensory overload and I was having a difficult time trying to make sense of it. I think it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity. My shirt instantly soaked through. The smell was something I couldn't pinpoint and changed slightly depending which way your nose pointed. One part diesel fuel, one part curry, two parts street sewage, a pinch of salt from the sea, and a generous cup sweat. And then there's the sound of the horns. Forget the rush hour sound you're use to, between the motorbike, car, and the tuk tuk drivers, these guys put on a symphony of non stop ear piercing noise. It's its own language. You can't really escape it, and there's nothing you can do to fight back because you don't have a horn to articulate your frustrations.
The amount of people in the city was staggering. No matter how you define city population, and there's many according to wiki, Mumbai breaks into the top 10 in almost all of them. Even more impressive to me, it's the 3rd most densely populated city in the world (wiki). It's something you feel and can't seem to get out of. To put it in perspective, Mumbai is 17 times more densely populated than NYC.
India was unfamiliar and unpredictable so I have to admit I was a little uncomfortable at times while traveling. It pushed my limits and tested my patients, but it also enticed my curiosity, stretched imagination, and challenged what I thought was possible. India showed me what hope looks like, and what it looks like not to have any. It's an inspiring place that taught me a lot about myself and forced me to think differently.
India is a country you could travel to a hundred times and realize you still know nothing about it and the way things work. That's why it will be cool to come back some day.
Bhopal'n with my friend Dave from university. We joked that we haven't talked to each other in 10 years, and of all the places in the world, we decided to reunite in Bhopal. I had a great time catching up and telling old war stories. It was just like ol' times.
A special shout out to Peter from Sweden. He introduced us to the world famous "Snake Guy". Correction, he introduced me. When the snakes came out Dave was no where insight.