India… the country which smells like diesel, swirling dust, sweet chewing tobacco, and incense. Where everyone believes they are the king of the road, but in the end they are all overruled and stopped by the slowest creatures on earth: cows. Where everyone is eager to help you if you have a problem or need to arrange something. Where fortresses, built to defend against enemies, are nowadays a safe haven for young lovers who are unable to show their love outside the heavy brick walls. Where every empty plot is used by boys to play cricket, dreaming of once being able to play in an official team and stadium. Where school children are working hard, having high hopes and dreams, and are eager to practice their English with you. Where you’ll often be welcomed with a good cup of masala chai. Where people worship a mighty river, but destroy it at the same time by polluting it. Where spitting, burping, farting, pissing, and sometimes even pooing in public is not strange. Where making selfies is super hip, and you get bonus points when you take a (sneaky) selfie with a foreigner. Where small children are forced to sell balloons at traffic lights, while their parents are watching them from a distance. Where you literally see the cities expanding and developing every day. Where you’ll find complete families with small children on one motorbike, while the father drives on the wrong side of the road against all traffic. Where train stations are also used as pavement hotels, as you’ll find dozens of people sleeping comfortable on the concrete of the entrance halls and platforms. Where you’ll find many women working in harsh jobs, but always proud and dressed in beautiful bright saris.
There is so much to say about India, but these are several things that characterizes the country for us. Tonight we leave India, where we stayed for more than 3 months. Our time here has been a special experience, as it is definitely a country of extremes. India has amazed us and it made us angry at the same time. We started to love it, but we cursed it as well. We sometimes found it harsh, loud, impatient, confronting, but also friendly, beautiful, and peaceful. We came to India having many questions, but we leave with many more. We found out that this is not the country where we would like to live and work for a longer time, but we will come back to discover the parts of India that we haven’t discovered yet and witness its beauty.
Heleen & Stephan
P.s.: the blogs about Nepal will come online soon!