From the busy hustle and bustle of the streets and local markets, to watching the traffic swerve around the cows that would stand in the middle of the roads—India was one of the most fascinating and eye-opening countries I’ve ever been too.
India had been a country that I was dreaming about for the last few years, mainly because it completely intimidated me. As a traveller, I’m always looking for new countries that completely throw me out of my comfort zone, and challenge me, and I knew if any country was going to do that, it would be India—and I was right.
When you prepare to travel to a new country, if you’re like me, you do as much research as possible, and chat with other people who have been to where you’re going, but the thing I found about India is it didn’t seem like anyone or anything could really prepare me for it. There are very few countries I visit that actually make me stop and think about how I’m going to describe it in words, and India definitely made me speechless.
From the minute I stepped off the plane in Delhi and saw the grey haze hanging over the city, to when we stepped out into the markets of Jaipur for the first time, everything I saw and witnessed while in India was so different from anywhere else. Underneath the trash, the pollution, and the chaos—that everyone hears so much about when you speak of India, there is a beautiful country and culture filled with traditions and vibrancy.
One of the most beautiful things I found about India is how despite most of the populations living conditions and lack of necessities (or what we consider necessities), they made it work. When you watch a 5-year-old kid on the street playing and taking care of his 4-month-old sister, and you think about how North American’s are concerned about their kids being out of sight, let alone out playing on a chaotic street. Or when you see a family of eight crammed into a three seater tuk tuk, and think about how car seats are not only mandatory, but actually expire after so many years back home. You begin to realize that the worries and concerns that Indians face are much different than ours back home.
When you visit countries like India, you have the option to be close minded and judge the way countries like this function, or you can be open-minded and embrace the learning opportunity. The Indian culture is one that is very focused on traditions, religion and family, and you can see that in everything that they do—from kids living with their families, long after they’re married, to watching people travel from across the country for a chance to wash away their sins in the Ganges River. Indian’s priorities are much different from what I’m used to, and I found it exhilarating to learn from, and witness.
Not only did India make me realize how much our culture worries about everything, it also made me realize how lost our culture has gotten working towards a life that we think we want or need, versus living in the moment. I remember asking our tour guide about car accidents in India, since the traffic was so chaotic and didn’t seem to follow any structure. “There were definitely accidents, but it’s not worth our time to pull over and argue about a scratch on our car,” he explained.
We live in a culture that’s so caught up in their wants versus their needs. Everyone wants to make a six figure salary, so they can buy an oversized house or condo, that’ll store all their things. Although I love the life I lead, and realize that our culture almost requires us to live this way to some extent, traveling to a place like India, really makes you question who is living better.
India completely put me outside of my comfort zone more than any country I’ve ever been too, or probably ever will go too. Growing up in a first world country, I think many of us take for granted all the things we have in our lives and around us. I never thought I’d come home and be thankful for streetlights, or the size of what to us is a “tiny” apartment in the city—traveling in general teaches me so much about myself, and forces me to take a step back and really look at the life I lead, and if it’s one I’m happy with.
Lauren is a Toronto-based blogger and marketing professional. Lauren’s blog, Twirl The Globe, was created to encourage and inspire other full-time professionals to get out there and see the world. You can follow Lauren on Twitter here, like her Facebook page here, or check out some of her photos on Instagram here.