Kelly and Shannon of IntrovertyDuo tagging in, excited to be sharing some of our amazing travel adventures with #LJOJLO readers! We were ecstatic to receive an invitation from LJO to be featured on #LJOJLO, but then faced the ultimate blogging conundrum: what to share with travel savvy readers such as yourselves?!
Well, with Kelly having TEN trips to India under her belt, and Shannon being lucky enough to have joined her on one of those visits, we didn’t have to think too terribly hard before deciding on India as our destination of choice today!
India is a country of extremes, and it is overwhelming, to say the least. When it comes to India, we have found there is just no amount of preparation that can ready you for what’s in store! Even for those of us who diligently research destinations before we visit, it’s not the same. No amount of documentary watching is going to prepare you forexperiencing India in person. With some countries you visit, you know what you’re going to see before you step off the plane. This is not the case with India! The country will surprise you every step of the way, and those surprises are a big part of India’s greatness.
Today, we aim to give you an honest look at what it’s like to see India for the first time. Join us as Kelly covers most of the details (since she’s an India travel pro!) and Shannon adds her thoughts on the country’s cuisine. If there’s only one take-away from our journeys, we hope you realize the only way to fully appreciate India is to make a trip yourself!
You Smell India First
How do I know you smell India first? Because the body odor of yourself and your fellow travellers can trickle in your nose while even still on an airplane. Once you land you feel the humidity (see below for more on that!) and you can smell the actual air of the country. The first thing I smelled on the runway before the doors even opened was curry spices! It smelled like turmeric and fenugreek with the undertone of B.O. My mind was BLOWN that you could smell India IN NOVEMBER – as soon as the plane landed – when it wasn’t even hot! It was so very foreign to me.
Now, not all smells are bad. India is famous for it’s spices, and they take over your nose everywhere you go. The country is also filled with sweeter scents, too, like spiced tea drinks, flowers, incense and fruit. But, as with anything else in India, you get the good layered in with the not-so-good!
Take one simple example of walking around Connaught Place in central Delhi. On a 30 minute walk, you will undoubtedly smell the following: exhaust pollution from the cars taking off, goat, cow, cat or puppy poo, human feet, pizza (there are like 5 pizza restaurants in CP), street vendor food cooked or raw on a cart, your own sweat and body odor, curry, curry, curry from AC restaurants as doors open and close, public urination (sometimes you get to see it, too!) frying oil from a different street cart, incense from a mini, impromptu temple, and fresh marigolds, ready for celebration.
The Sounds, oh the Sounds!
1) They honk their horn. In India, this is not seen of as a rude gesture, but more of a “hello, I’m here!” notification. If a car is behind a working or delivery truck, a simple *honk, honk* and the truck moves to the side. Part of this is because the traffic lines are not mandatory, or if they are, 0.0 people are following them when they have somewhere to be.
2) They shout. Indian people speak increasingly louder than other nations. I know it isn’t intentionally to scream at someone, it’s gotta just be Darwin’s survival of the fittest thing, if you can hear me, things get done! And things are OBVIOUSLY getting done, ‘cause population is booming.
3) Firecrackers are a big deal. Indians LOVE firecrackers, for all celebrations. Sometimes they go off for New Year’s and big religious celebrations. But often times, you can hear them popping into the wee dark hours of the night for a wedding or a big party.
4) Animals are everywhere. And they aren’t the silent types. They make noise. A LOT of noise.
5) Weddings. Weddings come with noise in all cultures, but India probably takes the cake! The marching bands, the dancing, the music, the firecrackers – it all adds to the noise pollution of India.
6) Places of Worship. If you are in a Muslim neighborhood, you will hear the calls to prayer fives times daily. If you are near a Hindu temple during a celebration, you will hear chimes, gongs, chants, cheers as well. If it is a birthday, holiday, or religious parade, you will hear hundreds or thousands of people in jubilation on the street.
So Much to See, See, See
From the colorful saris, to the ancient architecture, to the incredibly people watching that would entertain your eyes for hours, there are so many SIGHTS in India. First, let’s start with one of the Eight World Wonders: The Taj Mahal. Just go. Go to it. There’s a bunch of ways to get there, train, car, tour bus, flight, taxi, private car, etc. Just GO. It’s magnificent and surpasses every expectation you can imagine.
There are also a few greats sights I love around New Delhi as well: The Lotus Temple that is a place of worship for those in the Baha’i faith. It celebrates one god over all, and even has readings from a Hindu text, the Holy Bible and the Quran. The Lal Qila, Humayun’s Tomb, Qtub Minar, Akshardam Temple, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Jama Masjid, etc. Ohmygoodness just see it. After 10 trips I have seen it all, but if you are there just a little bit of time, I would recommend a HOHO Bus. You know, the Hop On, Hop Off buses that continually follow the same routes and you can get off and get on as you need for a whole day. It’s worth it if you have a short amount of time. Plus, even with all the Delhi traffic, I have never had a traffic issue on that particular bus.
A Taste of India
Oh my heavens, the wealth of delicious food in this country can make a foodie’s heart squeal with delight! The Indian people have a magical way with spices, and the resulting dishes are spectacular. Curries, chai, vegetarian dishes, meats, even just plain old rice – you name an ingredient and I guarantee the Indian people have used it to create a meal packed with mouthwatering flavor!
I really enjoy spicy foods, so getting to enjoy fresh, hot curries was a dream come true. I wish I could say I captured tons of pictures of the amazing meals we shared in India, but I was too busy enjoying them to remember to snag some snaps (my trip was pre-blog launch, so little did I know that quality images would come in handy some day!) Kelly was kind enough to dig through her archives, so you can feast your eyes on a few delicious delicacies.
Since returning from the trip I frequently crave the delicious foods I enjoyed in India. I have yet to find truly authentic Indian food in my hometown, so I try my hand at making Indian dishes at home, with the help of inspiration like this! I can make a tasty dish, but it’s just not quite the same. That said, I really hope to have the opportunity to return to India and enjoy more tasty treats like this:
The Touch of India
I wish this was a silly little exaggeration, but the moment you land in India, even with the plane doors still closed, you can FEEL THE HUMIDITY. Coming from the dry climate of the Western USA, the humidity nearly knocks me off my feet. It takes a day or two to get used to having sweat in every crevice of your body (but I never stop commenting on it) and you just understand that this is life here. Every moment you step outside, you’ll be assaulted with the humidity. Now I have been to India in every month but January and July, and I can tell you, that it only eases up *slightly* in the November- February months.
But it’s not just the humidity that touches you. Sometimes it’s the people: their stares, glares, and smiles. I have been specifically touched by the little kiddos who walk the streets, knocking on the windows, miming their desire to eat some food. Sometimes the smiles touch you and you remember that no matter the language, religion or nation, everyone, young and old, can be touched by a smile, thumbs up, and high five.
Heart of India
Once your senses have (even temporary) adjusted to the sensory overload of India, you start to see the true heart of the nation. You see the mamas with their babies, crossing the street or asking for a meal. You see the families, loaded on their motorcycles (currently my highest count is 5 humans on one bike!) off to temple or the market. You feel the sense of accomplishment from all the citizens rushing to get to the bus, to their jobs, to their families back home.
You see, deep down – beyond all the smells, sights, the humidity overload – the biggest heart I have ever felt from a culture. It could be as a bias being married to an Indian for over 4 years, but this is the nation, the culture, that created my amazing life partner. This heartbeat is what keeps India incredible: the people. They are full of heart, as artisans creating, shopping, and wearing some of the greatest jewelry and textiles the world has ever known. They are technicians and intellectuals literally changing the way the world functions. The heart of India is contagious. And keeps me coming back.
India has Soul
At Janpath Market in New Delhi right outside Connaught Place, I picked out a little Lord Ganesha (the elephant) to keep with me for protection in my travels. I knew I wanted him to live in my backpack, but when I asked my (Hindu) husband where to put him when I got home, he simply said, “Just put him next to your Jesus idol.” And that was that, the simplest solution ever, straight from an open-minded, all-inclusive, celebratory Indian man. That is India’s soul in a nutshell.
We hope you enjoyed this look into everything India has to offer. A huge thanks to #LJOJLO for the invitation to share our experiences with you all!
Much Love & It’s Been Real,
What happens when two best friends who live across the country email each other for 11 straight years? They form an inseparable bond, sharing the best secrets, deepest part of each others’ lives, and learning just what an Introverty Duo they really are. Discovering they have so much to say about domestic and international travel, as well as cheering on the rest of the introvert population, they start a blog, creating a digital diary of their lives.
Shannon is the lucky momma of one kiddo and lives with her husband in Durham, NC. She has traveled to 5 countries, and been on two cross-country road trips, allowing her to visit 28 USA states. She recharges with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.
Kelly is from Spokane, Washington, and loves the Northwest Life! Her husband Nikhil lives in New Delhi, India. She has visited 11 countries, including India 10 times. She recharges by planning her next visit with her husband and scrapbooking previous vacations.