I was back in the U.S. for a few weeks around the holidays and really enjoyed talking about our trip with our friends and family. We got the usual questions about favorites and least favorites. Some comments and questions about India made me think we were too harsh in our previous posts. A lot of people assume we didn’t like India. (Maybe it was all the cow shit talk…) On the contrary, we liked it quite a bit, it’s just a tough place. In an effort to help people understand the great things about India, without going into the negative, here are my 5 favorite things!
1. The Food
No surprise here. I already loved Indian cuisine, so how could I not love the better, and cheaper, real thing? Some of my favorite items were veg pakora, bhindi masala, and palak paneer. We also ate a lot of Thali, which is like a sample plate of a few curries and sauces with naan or roti. Even in SE Asia we made it a point to seek out Indian neighborhoods for a meal at least once a week. Travelers shouldn’t be afraid to jump right in and enjoy the food in India. Just use your head and watch for anything that looks unsanitary. If the place is full of locals, the food probably isn’t making people sick, or they wouldn’t be in business.
The colors, textures, and sparkles of the Indian saris are vibrant and beautiful. It seems that the sole purpose of an Indian woman is to look pretty. We were in India around the time of Diwali so maybe the women were stepping it up a notch for the holiday. I loved seeing a girl in a colorful sari clinging to the back of a scooter with her scarf blowing in the wind. Somehow, they keep that scarf on while zipping through traffic! I didn’t buy a full sari, but I did buy a silk sari-like shirt and beautiful Pashmina scarf for a great price. If you’re going to be in India for a long time, go ahead and get a sari. Locals love too see non-Indians trying to blend in!
3. Masala Chai
Already being a tea fan, this drink won me over instantly. It’s black tea mixed with a healthy dose of warm masala milk and sugar. Sometimes is spicier, sometimes sweeter. It depends on who buy it from. You’ll find it served absolutely everywhere, usually in little paper cups. It’s the perfect way to start the day and end each meal!
4. The Smells
Of course I’m not talking about the sewage and cows. What sticks with me the most is the incense and flowers. Every business and home has a little shrine set up and a sweet smell pours out of every doorway. Women and children make garland to sell on the streets, especially during holidays. It adds to the colorful atmosphere and definitely improves the smell! You also can’t beat that wonderful spicy smell that comes out of every market and restaurant. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
5. The Photos
India is a photographer’s dream. Everything is colorful and interesting. You can take dozens of photos just standing on one street corner. It’s also a lot of fun taking pictures of the kids and people. They are all friendly, outgoing, and very willing to have their picture taken. This is not true of the locals in some countries we visited. We even felt like celebrities sometimes. Families wanted to shake our hands and takes photos with the white people. Hordes of kids swarmed us screaming “photo, photo!” Some of our favorite photos on this trip are from India.
What do you love about India? Leave your comments below!
Kim & Clark Kays quit their jobs for an uncertain trip around the world. Originally from St. Louis, they relocated to Chicago after getting married in 2005. After working for five years in middle school and the Fortune 500, they realized there was more to life than the 9-to-5, so made the crazy decision to exchange money for time rather than the other way around.
Their hobbies include fighting over writing styles and searching for gelato. They think food, beer, architecture, and photography are some of the best things about travel—especially when combined. Their travel blog, To Uncertainty and Beyond, includes long-term travel tips as well as humorous anecdotes from their journey through Europe and Asia. They invite you to experience their journey and learn from their adventures and mistakes.