Traveller Tales - Nina's India Experience | Real Gap Blog

Traveller Tales - Nina's India Experience

 

As I stepped out of the airport into the thick Indian air, I was immediately covered in sweat, even though it was six in the morning. I was met by my RealGap representative, Amit, who was going to be my guide for the next month. We shook hands and he was very polite, as I would soon find out, most Indians are. He took my bags, loaded them into the car and we were off, into the bustling streets and crazy traffic of Delhi. Swerving between tuk tuks, mopeds and cows trying to cross the street; women with children, glimpses of beautiful saris, and people trying to sell handmade jewellery- it all became a blur as we zipped through the city.  
 
As I was settling into my accommodation at the house for volunteers like myself, Amit knocked on my door and handed me the itinerary for the next month. The first thing that popped out at me was the visit to the famous Taj Mahal... 
 
Our guide is recounting the famous and romantic story of the Taj Mahal, though I am barely listening. We walk up to the entrance gate and I can see the beautiful structure through the arch of the walkway. It is breath-taking. It is huge and enchanting and unlike anything I have ever seen before. In order to go inside the Taj Mahal, we have to use the entrance labeled “non-Indians,” and then I notice that we are the only Westerners there, out of hundreds of people. I look around and realize that many people are taking pictures of us, rather than of the Taj Mahal. This is something I definitely will have to get used to in India; people staring and taking pictures...
 
I continued to read the itinerary, and every day sounded like it would be an adventure. The markets in Jaipur, The Pink City, sounded amazing and I couldn’t wait to get some shopping done... 
 
We are stuck in the middle of the street with tuk tuks just barely missing our toes, our hearts racing as we try to cross the busy streets of Jaipur. A cow wanders out into the middle of the road and slows down the traffic and this is our chance! Into the markets we run, where vendors try to sell us beautiful scarves and saris, jewellery, and a variety of street food; some of which I have never seen before, and everyone promising “good deal for you, I make discount for you!” We come across a beautiful scarf and sari shop, with air conditioning, so we go inside and let ourselves become immersed not only in the blissfully cool air but also in the many colourful fabrics.... 
 
I was getting more excited now, my heart fluttering with anticipation. As I continued to read, I came across the camel ride, one of the reasons I chose this trip in the first place...
 
“You! Come!” one of the Indian boys points at me and then points at the biggest camel of the bunch. “Sit!” Awkwardly, I lift my leg up and over the camel and I just barely sit down when the camel starts to move. I nearly fall off as it begins to stand up, first with its front legs, then its back legs. “Jimmy the camel,” the boy grins at me as if that explains anything! We ride through the town of Pushkar and into the desert. Everywhere we go people wave and take pictures of us. Even in the desert, there are small communities which have built their houses out of scraps, yet they still run up to us, smiling and waving. We continue our ride and just as the sun sets I see a few tents in the distance- our desert camp for the night. A table has been set in front of the tents with an assortment of delicious Indian foods; dal tadka, sukhi bhaji and chopatti. The aroma is intoxicating... 
 
I was so tired after the long trip from Canada to India, I needed to sleep, but I just had to see what else was in store for us. My eyes flicked across the page and landed on the words The Himalayas... 
 
I wake up in the still morning to the beautiful view of the snow-capped Himalayas. I take a moment to soak it in before heading downstairs for breakfast. Today we are heading up into the mountains to McLeodganj- the home of the Dalai Lama, where we will proceed to do our trek up to Triund Point. We have some free time this morning before our journey begins, and it is a beautifully sunny day. We sit outside and enjoy the quietness of the town- it is a nice change from all the honking tuk tuks in the big cities. Suddenly, a giant monkey appears and comes straight at us. Frightened, we run into the house, but it follows us inside into the dining area where it begins to search for food. We are so scared that we lock ourselves in the bathroom, giggling, but too afraid to see if the monkey has left...  
 
The itinerary sounded more than amazing, but what I did not realize was that I was about to embark on the experience of a lifetime with people I will never forget. 

Guest written by Nina Nathan who travelled on the India Experience trip in July

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