“A face like mine, bereft of dreams, and white” – Nicky Wire.
Yes. I’m in New Delhi. I am in India! This is perhaps the biggest shock for me to date on my travels and I can’t explain it, it’s just the way it happens. From day one, I always said I had no intention of ever visiting India and 111 countries deep into the journey, change has arrived. I’m in real country 112, fake country probably 130 and it’s India!
People kept nagging me to visit India, I kept ignoring them and putting obstacles in the way. I cannot explain the reason why I neglected India for so long. I have turned down two fully paid for trips to India in the past, you couldn’t have paid me to go there before!! And I replied to many a hotel e-mail to turn down a stay in favour of backpacking through Chittagong in Bangladesh, Masar e Sharif in Afghanistan or Yangon in Myanmar. I flew over India about 40 times. I even secretly had a stop over in Mumbai Airport once and didn’t even want to admit that I spent 24 hours on the country’s land. I never left the airport that time though ;-), this time I will be. It just didn’t seem like a country I would ever see myself visiting.
Here are some of reasons I said I would never go to India.
- I love China too much and I would always rather have had an extra trip to China than a first trip to India.
- It just seemed too big, like a place I should spend 6 months in, rather than just a quick 2-4 week trip. I didn’t feel like I had 6 months at my disposal for that.
- It’s too cliched in the travel blogging world. Everyone goes to India. I don’t want to be popular, or a follower. I’d rather backpack through Ladonia.
- I forgot it existed.
- I sided with some of its bordering and nearby countries like China, Tajikistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh.
- Panny Yu told me she hated it and she is a good judge so that put me off ever going.
- A few other friends told me it was a dirty sh*thole. Doesn’t inspire me that!
- Toilet problems. I’ve had some bad diarrhoea down the years, and a load of bad excrement moments, often caused by Indian food outside India.
But hey, it’s a new day today and things change – again, the reasons why I am finally in India are mixed and varied, yes inspired by other travellers, the time of year and the cheap flight option from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan etc. But definitely inspired by my time in Bishkek where I met 6 other travellers that had been to India and well, every day in Bishkek I had to walk past the Indian Embassy!!! Eventually I knew I’d pop in and give them my passport and ask for a visa.
Here are some reasons for this change:
- Holifest is on in March and has been recommended by about 5 other backpackers.
- My friend Katia from Brazil is in India around the same time.
- My friends Joel and Terri will be here early March.
- The visa for India is only $35 US here in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
- I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka so rather than repeat one of those, it seemed the right time to go to a bordering country.
- I have a 2 month gap in my travels until my next planned trip – to Grodig in Austria to meet Lock In Lee Adams.
- Geographically in my life, Kyrgyzstan is the closest base I’ve ever had to India, so it seems right.
I love Kyrgyzstan though as you’ll have read and will still have my base in Bishkek, but I’m on a side trip to India. I have no exact details yet as my travels are spontaneous, but I would love to visit these places in India, given half a chance:
- Holifest at Vrindavan
- Gujarat and get the permit to drink alcohol there
- Hippy Goa
- Staying in the crazy main bazaar in New Delhi
And I don’t think I’ll be in India for long – it’s a single entry and my visa ends mid April 2016 but for now, as the backlog of travel stories continues, perhaps India will appear on Don’t Stop Living one day soon.
I have a cosy base here at the Smyle Hostel Inn in the heart of the Central Bazaar. It’s all manic and I’m embracing this joint. Let’s have it!