“Preparing for India”

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“Preparing for India” by Eleanor Beckerman

We are currently sitting in the Doha Airport, waiting for our connection to Delhi, so I thought it could be a good time to reflect a bit on what I want from this trip.  I am hoping to immerse myself in Indian culture, and see the environment that normal Indians live in.  I understand that this will not be completely possible- India is a huge country and we will not get the chance to visit most of it.  However, I plan to make the most out of the two weeks that we do have to visit three different cities.  We will be traveling to Bodhgaya, Delhi, and Varanasi. I plan to take lots of pictures, which I hope will include a few frames documenting the massive wealth gap that exists in Indian society.  I also hope to take some pictures that begin to express how crowded India is.

I am very excited to see Bodhgaya, and to visit the Buddhist monastery.  I think it is very cool that they have a descendant of the bodhi tree the Buddha was enlightened under.  I hope to get a chance to meditate with the monks in the morning.  I am also excited about the sleeper train to Bodhgaya.  I think it will be a great chance to see  the countryside in India, instead of just cities.  Because it is a very long train ride, we will also see a variety of scenery and landscapes, which will be very interesting.  I also hope to get good photos from the train car, as it is an express and we will not be stopping to switch trains at any point.

I generally like Indian food, but I have found the Indian food in the District to just not be very compelling.  I am very excited to eat Indian food at the place of its origin, prepared in traditional ways.  I am disappointed that there are some food restrictions though, such as only eating peelable fruit, avoiding ice cubes, and staying away from street food.  I think it will be the hardest to stay away from fruit and street food.  This is because the fruit in Southern Asia is incredible.  Street food will be difficult to keep away from because it is such a big, important part of Indian culture and society.  Lots of commerce in India revolves around the streets, with people selling their wares from booths and folded tables, and competing with other vendors of the same thing.  However, I would be more disappointed to get Delhi belly, so I plan on following all of the food guidelines.

I am slightly nervous about the traffic in India.  From the videos that we watched, it seems like a recipe for disaster.  Cars, buses, rickshaws, bikes, wagons and pedestrians all share the streets, but with seemingly no law or order. But as our motto says: be bold and brave.

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