Video is for sure one of the best ways to make places I was exploring real in front of your eyes… Enjoy watching!
Wonders of always inspiring and amazing Thailand …
Crazy green, exotic Sri Lanka…
One girl, one Harley, one dream, one magical minute around the world
Magic of Advent in one and only New York City
My Route 66 photo exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, Croatia
One of the greatest road trips with my amazing friends, 3 blondes rocking USA
My year in San Francisco captured in short video; A Love letter to the city
Beaches, parties, landscape, architecture, vibe, … all you need to see in Malta in few minutes…
Harley days Biograd 2014…
A Year of traveling in three minutes…
Virtual walk in amazing San Francisco…
Magical Bovec, Slovenia
Religion and spiritual thought have been main association of India since always, after living and working there for a while I must admit that I’m now even more sure that this things are to be found in person itself or not; there’s no place that could make you rich in spirit unless you already had it in yourself. Yes, it might have great impact on you, as any other country you visit, but it won’t give you inner peace or make you a better person just because you went there, as some assume. But, among many other places in India, there was one where I could have felt the power of Indian Gods, it was Palitana, temples in Palitana to be exact. And I swear it was before smoking magical green cigarette in the middle of the temples ;).
The fact that there aren’t many tourists who visit the place or even know about it, already made it a bit magical. It was the first place where I haven’t seen any other foreigner but us for the whole trip, doesn’t mean they never go there, but it doesn’t happen that often- making the place even better and more authentic. Although it’s located in Gujurat, Indian country I lived in, even I didn’t know about it. This was a great opportunity for my best Indian friend to show me and our small international gang “the real India”. Since we had him and his car there was no need for a bus and Palitana was just around 4 hours away from Ahmedabad, the city we lived in. But if you find yourself in India you will have the bus option and Palitana is something you don’t want to miss. The city of Palitana and mountain Shatrunjaya next to it is the world’s only mountain that has more than 900 temples. So it’s no surprise that the temples and whole mountain are the most sacred pilgrimage place for the Jain community and this is the world’s largest Temple Complex. Being the special place as it is has good and bad side of it.
On the way to Plaitana we stopped at one of the numerous restaurants next to the road, even though it seemed as lottery winning place– this was the way we would call places where things like diarrhea would be inevitable. It actually turned out to be the place where even I loved the food, which wasn’t often when it comes to Indian food. Besides, we were like Hollywood stars since most of the people having dinner wanted to take a photo with us, in India this happens often when you go to places where tourist rarely come.
Ok this was the good part of a special place, but after coming to Palitana we experienced the bad one as well. We haven’t booked a place for the night, since our Indian friend was sure we won’t have any problem with finding one, once we get there. The city is full of Jain hotels, meaning they maybe offer rooms like regular hotels, but are actually only for Jain and usually don’t accept anyone else. We have tried with the normal hotel first. While our Indian friend booked the rooms we were taking things from the car and the moment a boy at reception desk saw us coming in, (international girls and boys), he changed his mind, gave money back and explained that there was no room for us. After my friend got angry and tried to explain how wrong this was, 4, 5,6,ACTION ( we were Hollywood stars anyway), one of them was holding him while the other one was hitting him with a wooden stick. Next scene “our” international guys getting between them right away and there it was; just like a movie scene.
The noise we made gathered several angry Indian guys in front of the hotel and we realized instantly that the best thing we could have done was to get into the car as fast as we could had. So there we were, no place to stay since the next expensive hotel (with no scenes like this) was already full. Right before considering sleeping in the car, our Indian diplomat managed to convince one of the guards in one of the Jain “hotels” that nobody will even know that we were there. We paid a bit extra, ran into the rooms and left them before dawn.
Leaving rooms before dawn was our initial plan anyway. Most of the people walking to the temples start that early for a simple reason; main complex of the temples is on the top of the mountain and it takes more than 3800 stairs to be climbed (3.5 km) in order to get here. Furthermore you have to get down before evening, since nobody, not even Jain monks are able to sleep there. Beside taking all that stairs and not being able to sleep on the top, there is one more rule which will help you find the Indian Gods or discover spiritual India: you are not allowed to eat any food on the way to the temples. Mistake number one; we didn’t eat before walking there, mistake number two; we carried only biscuits, hoping to find food offered on the top. Upsss, first thing that for sure made Gods angry, we had been eating on the way to the top. Even though you’re not allowed to eat, you can get free water on several stops towards temples . Standard Indian way of drinking; everybody drinking from several same metal cups, without touching mouth. After few months of life in India, this things become completely normal for you.
Every devout Jain aspires to climb to the top of the mountain at least once in a lifetime, because of its sanctity, so there will be numerous both female and male monks whom you will meet on the way to temples. Besides being inspired by their devotion I got my answer for their “strange” hair. (If they weren’t bald, their hair looked just as the hair of a toddler looks like). They all have to pull out their hair, both man and women in order to avoid obstacles in their path of going Gods way, since in many ways the beauty of a person is attached to the his/her looks and looks have a lot to do with hair. Monks walk bare foot and very fast especially when you think of their age, but it wasn’t only monks walking bare foot, majority of the people was walking barefoot, of course but us. Beside Jain living in India you will meet many of them living far away ; Canada or States… but they visit Palitana at least once if not every year, they simply find it necessary for their health and success or something else. Some of them will be the ones who will talk to you, often surprised to see you there.
Just as with many different sanctuaries of other religions you will find many people trying to get there even though not being able to do it by themselves, with a hope of getting better if they reach the top. That’s when “Doli” comes in. These kind of things are really only to be found in India or some other 3rd world country. Doli is kind of a swing chair carried by porters. Yes the truth is that some of them are too old or too ill to climb the hill alone, but many of them just use the chance to have others carrying them on their back literally, for this I was amused by the fact that you are charged based on your weight. I don’t even have to mention that we were offered to be carried by every single available Doli carrier, since we for sure looked like someone with the money, being white as we were. Sadly for them we didn’t like the idea in the first place.
With all the stories on the way there, with every step closer to the top and main complex of the temples I was realizing why every single stair was worth it. Since the whole hill considered as a sacred place, there are also temples on the way to the top, already amazing enough to fascinate you. No crowd, as often in temples around India, no people living on the streets next to them, no cows coming in…all together some different India. As the number of stairs has increased, so has the level of the fascination by the view on the Cambay gulf underneath and temples in front of us.
After we were already slightly spiritualized (extremely hungry-one causes the other) we have reached the main temples at the top of the mountain, where we instantly felt some special energy. Although they were the same people whom we met on the way to the top everybody was somehow happier and more relaxed, followed by the energy of the place itself. It really wasn’t only about the fascinating architecture, the place has some kind of power to make you fell the peace inside of you, yeah you are able to find that in many churches, temples or mosques, but there is something which distinguishes Palitana temples form many other spiritual places.
There is amazing and big outdoor space between temples which you can easily enjoy; we have managed to smoke weed ( usually not my kind of thing, but the energy of the place made me do it ;)), we have climbed through all kinds of passages to reach every possible top of the temples, we have laughed like maniacs which didn’t bother anyone. We have even found the place to sleep in the middle of the temples. All together absolute freedom, just like the place where Gods live. Still if you go there and don’t experience the same things, don’t blame it on me , I just had the right friends along, so everything was possible with them, still we have proved that it’s possible. If this kind of energy was to be found in churches I don’t think they would be missing young people like they do.
There are two basic parts of the complex, the one with old temples and with the new ones, on the day of our visit (Sunday) there was some kind of ceremony, something like mass in churches in the old part. There is a rule that forbids you to take any photo of the old part, still I have managed to find some spot where at least few shots were possible, ok another way to make Gods angry. It’s amazing what kinds of their customs you can get familiar with during the ceremony, most interesting one was that many of them hold some little mirrors in their hands during singing-praying, so they avoid looking directly at the Gods whose statues are at the altar.
We were already familiar with the next custom, but that day it was our favorite one; they feed the Gods. Not some proper meal, but they bring almonds and different kinds of sweets and just leave them close to the altar or at some spots in the temples. Hahaha yeah you just made the right conclusion, our hunger was greater than the fear of making Gods angry or risking with the bad karma. Our inner Gods had enjoyed some sweets and a lot of almonds when nobody was watching, we are all still alive and fine. I believe this made the Gods more angry than anything else we did that day, while on the other hand I was angry when thinking about the fact that all that food from all the temples in India could be in the hands of many hungry children in India instead of being thrown away. Just the same as the fact that rich Jain community from all around the World is spending enormous amount of money on keeping the temples in such great condition or on building the new ones can easily make you wonder. Obviously making Gods happy is more important than helping millions of people leaving on the streets of India. However, that same Gods are still enjoying themselves while I hope you will enjoy photos of beautiful temples in Palitana, before you explore them by yourself.
For the ones who will go:
During the monsoon season the temples are closed for devotees – June till September mostly.
Book a place for sleeping before going there.
After being absolutely fascinated by the city of Udaipur, I was able to find the reasons for fascination in several facts; it was the first trip I didn’t take by myself during life in India, which made me feel more secure, friends I was traveling with were the best possible traveling partners and I tried a magical drink…
Even so , the truth is that after coming back from India and traveling to many other Indian places with that same group of friends, Udaipur still remained for me, but also for many other people who have explored India, one of the places that shouldn’t be missed while in India. Friends I was with in Udaipur made the experience complete, since they were ready to become a part of all kinds of adventures with me during several days we had spent there, but the city itself really offers a lot on the other hand.
India is most often described as colorful, explosion of colors and scents, full of contrasts… it’s all truth, but unfortunately the contrast often comes down to a collision of great wealth and terrible poverty. Udaipur confirms all of this, but in a milder form than other cities I have been to in India. Another great thing about the city is the fact that majority of things worth of checking out is within the walking distance, so you won’t get that often into a fight with rickshaw drivers, who always want to take more money from you then they should. The most popular place in the city is the Lake Palace, on an island in the middle of Pichola lake. Today transformed into very expensive hotel and a home to one of the James Bond movies. It’s a typical Indian scene when you see people washing clothes in the lake on one side and that same expensive palace on the other one.
Only by looking at these photos you can already realize why is Udaipur known as Venice of the East, while the number of the tourist walking around the city is almost something like the number of them walking around in Venice. You might often get a feeling of not being in India at all. Even I usually really don’t find hordes of tourists as something appealing, after living for some time in India it was amazing to meet people from all around the World. Next best thing about walking around the city in the evening is the fact that you can actually do it carefree, which really isn’t often the case with many Indian cities.
Udaipur is in Rajasthan, where alcohol isn’t forbidden as in Gujurat where we lived. After “relaxing” with beers, adventures were about to start… As soon as we left the restaurant and stared walking towards hostel in which we had arrived earlier that morning, problem number one; nobody remembers the name of it, so we couldn’t find the address or the phone number or even take rickshaw to get there. Ok, we were about to rely on our blurry memory. We have walked the distance from the hostel to the restaurant anyway. During night all that narrow streets looked just the same, so it was more like mission impossible. We were relaxed, night was warm and the only thing we did about our situation was laughing- the beauty of safe Udaipur, if we were in some other Indian city it might have not been that funny.
Then we’ve met them; sacred cows, in India all the cows are sacred any way and there isn’t a street were you won’t be able to meet them. We had all the time in the world and the male part of our team came to a “brilliant” idea, discovering if the cows would attack back them if they “attacked” them? Indian cows always attack you if they feel annoyed!
Few moments after that we were something like spider-man, again laughing enough to get the attention of the policeman walking around who didn’t find it amusing as much as we did. After few threats he became soft on the part that we were lost, so he took us to a place where his colleges were, something like main square. With their bad English and our bad memory we were trying to get us back to hostel . Next scene several policemen and us walking around trying to find our hostel, until: TA DA! There we were! After paying them some rupees, since it was expected form us anyway, we were about to start with our new adventure.
There was Indian/ Muslim wedding in the street right next to the hostel, at least we thought it was wedding. Of course we crashed the party and everybody were amazed to have us there except the bride, since we became the stars of the evening, instead of her.
This kind of experience is something you can’t plan, you can’t pay for it, there isn’t a guide which will suggest it and the most important you won’t experience it unless you’re open minded enough and your heart is filled with love for all the cultures and people in the World. But if you are, that kind of experiences are the best you can get while traveling. While talking to the other guests we had found out that it was their version of bachelorette party. More kind of a traditional rituals grooms family does with a bride a week before the actual weeding. Grooms family comes to visit the bride and her family. Even though it was a party there was only Masala chai (Indian tea) and water offered, but still we were having more than amazing time, with a lot of singing and dancing while enjoying the privilege of being able to be a part of it. I’m really not able to tell you when to be in Udaipur to experience the same, but I can tell you what not to miss in the city…
Since it’s the city of the lakes, taking a bout trip around the Pichola Lake, is a kind of an obligatory and it provides you with the best view of the city and all of the palaces. Besides, the trip also includes visiting the most beautiful palace on the island in the Pichola Lake. Jag Mandir is the name of the place and when it was built in the 17th century it was a place where royal family would organize parties. It doesn’t come as a surprise that it was turned into a luxurious hotel, just like the Lake Palace, but even so I don’t know when I liked it more; when approaching it or when were exploring every single part of it including some forbidden passages. The boat that takes you there and picks you up comes every half an hour, yet even few hours wasn’t enough for us.
In the city itself you shouldn’t miss the City Palace which was being built for 400 hundred years, while getting more and more colorful and luxurious. It used be a home for Kings and their families and today is a place where you can learn about their history and Indian culture. On the other hand I found it more amazing from the outside than inside and it has an amazing view on the city and lakes on the other side.
In the city center something you just can’t miss is big Hindu temple (Jagdish Temple), it might not be the best temple you’ll see in India, but if you’re already there it’s worth of checking out. While the space in front of it is something like the main square in some other cities around the world. This is also one of the interesting facts about India, their cities are not similarly conceived as ours, you often cannot identify the main square, it’s all really different on that part of the World.
During the evening you really don’t want to miss traditional dance show and since it’s is held in the museum ( Bagore Ki Haveli), the place itself is interesting already.
Magical drink, the Bhang, can be bought on the streets of Rajasthan just as it was some usual drink. This is strange just because of the fact that it is being made out of marihuana balls mixed with lemon juice, sugar and water, at least these are the ingredients I’m familiar with. It tastes like lemonade, but the effect of it; well I might be still living in India if it was to be found that easily on the streets of Gujurat.
After trying it I have realized why some young people from western world find it hard to leave India. I actually don’t smoke marihuana cause it just makes me feel sick, but this was something absolutely different, literally some other dimension. After drinking, it works in the way that as more sugar you take ( like sweets or sweet juice) more high you get and if you wish to get back from the state in which you almost die laughing, you drink yogurt or water with lemon. But the thing we weren’t aware of; it has a bit postponed reaction and when it started it was already a bit too late to realize that we have overreacted with the sugar and some of us with the amount of the Bhang itself. Consequently the Indian cooking course we took right after drinking it on the street became another adventure, besides the fact that we weren’t even paying any attention on a woman teaching us to prepare the Indian meals, we were talking in a language only we understood. It’s really hard for me to find the words to describe you the amount of the laughter we had during that cooking lesson, so the best you can do is to try the drink yourself while in India.
Another thing more than worth visiting is the Monsoon palace, for what you will need to take rickshaw, since it’s few kilometers away from the city, but it’s not the palace itself that will leave you speechless. Actually on the entrance where you are picked up by a car taking you there it doesn’t look promising, but closer you get to it, you come to conclusion that it’s about the hill where it is, more than about the palace. The only problem you’ll have is to decide where is better view? On the side towards city and the lakes or on the other side on endless Aravalli Hills. Of course the best time to be there is during the sunset.
At the end I can add only one more thing, the city has absolutely won me over and I even haven’t visited the number one spot, according to many visitors; Jain Temple Ranakpu. So, if ever in India, Udaipur is something you don’t want to skip.
For the ones traveling there :
The best time to visit the city of Udaipur is from September till May and it’s also easy to find the way to get there from other cities by train or by bus. You also won’t regret if you visit Jagat Niwas Palace restaurant. I don’t think I have ever suggested some restaurant like this before, but this place is far more than just a restaurant. The place looks amazing and it gives you the best view on the lake while also being one of the best sunset spots in the city. Furthermore the food they have was one of the two best meals I had during life in India.
I will see you in ten minutes. Our time or Indian time? Our time. Having lunch with the only Croatian girl in Ahmedabad but me, really special feeling. Even though there is like 8 million people living in the city it is really hard to find someone of your nationality, especially when it comes to a Croatian one.
It’s been long ago, that all of us living here, not regarding the country we come from, have realized that Indian clocks simply work in different way than ours. So when they say it’s ten minutes , it’s at least, really at least 40 minutes of our time and this joke with Indian time has become part of any international conversation that includes meeting somebody. My Croatian friend is here for the job as well, Ahmedabad is really not one of the popular spots for tourists. Right after all the current topics in our country I breathed in the smell and dust, covered my mouth with scarf which I use for hiding blond hair ( really useful in India) and took rickshaw in order to get home. I’m already an expert in checking on the meter they use for measuring kilometers in order to charge the drive. The thing is; they don’t often put it on zero when they pick you up, but how to blame them? They’re just making a living. So, if you ever travel in India, make sure you’ve been put on zero, it’s the same in every city. With constant endless horns and foggy sunset I have come to the conclusion that time runs extremely fast in last few weeks making me already feel like home in this chaos. I have discovered many new things and realized that it was about time to share some things with you.
Finally days off from the office and writing articles and news for rich and successful Americans in my different Indian reality. Oh yeah; irony is a small word for my life here. On everyday basis I write about last trends in technology world, most successful companies, guys who are able to buy an island while i do it from a building which is surrounded with hundreds of people living on the streets, people who can only dream about life far away from trash. Sometimes seems like many here don’t see it as a problem; for them people living on the streets are not from the castes that deserve better. I often get a feeling that there isn’t many of us who feel like crying when we see half naked children living next to the road which is dangerous even when being in a car. Why days off finally? India is celebrating Diwali and their New Year.
Diwali and New Year’s
From all the adventures and experiences in last few weeks I will this time share one of the most special ones. Celebration of the Diwali and Indian New Years. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the most important holidays in India, something like Christmas for “our” countries. The celebration was one of the best experiences I have had so far in India, since I got the opportunity of celebrating it with local people in their homes, I was a part of this in a different way than being just an ordinary tourist. Although it was a little bit strange and sometimes funny for a girl from European world, it was more than a privilege. Again I would be happy if I could describe all the ways they do it, but no way to do that, some things are universal, but again all those castes have their own way and it represents something similar but also different for each of them. All together in their religions they have over 33 million of gods to worship and look at us, while we have issues and wars for only one or two of them. First fascinating thing about Diwali were ornaments made out of colored powder in front of every apartment, office or house.
Diwali afternoon brought me to an office, where we were allowed to attend blessing of the office and computers with ” waiting” for goddess Vishnu, the one that brings success in business. All in all it was amazing to see the performances and traditional activities for Diwali and one of the best ways of getting to know with Indian culture. At the end it made me thinking; to be honest our way of celebrating Christmas is not that different in its own essence. Here they prepared the sweets for their God, a bath and some money, which was taken by the “priest” who was doing the blessing. So I don’t know for your country, but in mine priests also get the money after sprinkling few drops of sacred water on Christmas tree. Are we that different in the end?
And just when I thought I got some clue about celebration of Diwali, at least in Gujarat/Ahmedabad, since there are differences in other parts as well, we have spent the Diwali night at friend’s home with her family who are Hindus, but some sub caste as part of Hindu, I realized I have no clue again. At her home traditional activities were different than the ones I was a part of, earlier that day. There wasn’t that kind of “priest”, instead men were singing by themselves first, then women and then all together. If I had the opportunity of being in Jain house or a Sikh I believe the celebration would be different again. The thing that was in common to every family in the whole city , were firecrackers and fireworks on each step of the way. They burst all of that as much as they can, since they believe in driving away evil spirits in that way. It would all be great if anyone cared about the safety, any kind of it, firecrackers were burst on the streets but on the roads too, so nobody seemed to care that there were cars, rickshaws and all the other ways of transportation coming through, for which firecrackers could have an effect of a bomb. If you want to see why the drive to friend’s house that evening was almost like being in the middle of the war you have a link to the video underneath. For me it was amazing and fun, but for my German roommate for instance, huge stress.
Day after Diwali is New Year, it would be insane to expect that anyone cared enough about the trash on the streets after all those firecrackers, cars passing through will disperse it all around any way. Long lived the Indian way of solutions for the problems.
And there is something else finally, ..I have a home, Indian standards/ having a shower with warm water becomes possible only during the day when the water heats itself due to the heat outside, but still it’s a home. Consequently my boss doesn’t have to have me at his place anymore. At his place I was like a Cinderella, cut out of the social life, since it was too dangerous to leave the place after dark at that part of the city, so besides home a have a life now as well. I found the apartment by myself of course; if I had waited Indian organization including their way of measuring time I would have been at bosses place till Christmas probably. Indian time. Legendary French guy, his cool Spanish girlfriend, girls from Mexico and Germany and me the Croatian chick, all under the same roof through good and bad.
Man would say typical situation for any big modern city, but you see it is very specific when it comes to Ahmedabad. There really isn’t too many of us from other countries here, so it often comes to that you know almost all international people here and they all know you. So thank God I really love all of my roommates cause we don’t get many options of choosing here. All of us here are constantly hanging around together, stick together like a glue, it is for sure easier for us to adopt to this world; really different from the one we left behind. We live in country of Gujarat, dry country where alcohol is forbidden, so there are no clubs where you could party and meet new people in the way we usually meet them. Here you work , live , sleep, travel, eat… with the same people, often 24/7, so if this doesn’t teach you patience nothing will. I sometimes get a feeling we are a part of Big Brother show here, if you let’s say kiss someone, tomorrow all the expats know about it. But there is a great part of this situation as well; we become more close much faster, than we would somewhere else, we see us as friends faster than we would at home. I believe this also must be one of the reasons why many fall in love with the place. Every week we gather few times at someone’s place, but just few of us have the option of having guests after 22pm, so there we enjoy hardly purchased alcohol. There are places to buy it, but even for that we have to get the permission, which being an expat allows us to get it, but of course even we have a certain limit for the amount. Even more often it happens that we are being kicked out of the apartments when having a party, which aren’t even close to the wild parties. If you are really lucky like my friend Stan you become the legend who got to be homeless two times in ten days time for organizing parties. When you think this is crazy let me remind you that meat and fish are here also really hard to get, not maybe forbidden like booze, but still there are just few places to buy it and not too many restaurants with, so all those huge stores are absolutely without it.
Part of our small international society are also some local friends, who actually really love us , besides with us they are enriching themselves with international friends and make our lives here much easier and getting us more familiar with the true life here.
Horoscope as a precondition for marriage
I honestly don’t know what to share with you among all the things that leave me speechless every day. For instance a girl from my office took me to a marriage biro in meantime. Yeah you read it right, majority of marriages are still being organized and besides they have to be within the same caste, it is still real situation. For this reasons they still have offices or biros for finding them life partners. Of course there are more open minded families that don’t force their children into things like marrying in that way, but I’m talking about majority here. Some of them are my friends and are aware of the real situation, where young people often have to choose between love and talking to their families for the rest of their lives, or even better it still happens that they get killed if they run away with somebody from different caste. And the punishment for killers? Well, hm.. it often just happens that nobody knows if they are being punished. I would like to be able to explain the way how the castes and sub castes are exactly divided, but don’t think even next few years of studying that wouldn’t make me capable of doing that. For sure basic way has to do with religion; Jains, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, …but then there are many, many other divisions among them really hard to know them all. It all comes to that it is all about in which family you were born in and that shapes most of your life in advance. Something that happened hundreds years ago has a reflection on your whole life today if you are part of this world. Beautiful India.
Visiting that marriage biro was for me/ typical want to be emancipated western unmarried female in her late twenties/ almost like life time experience, somewhere on the thin line between fun and tragedy. So specific that it deserves to get a blog of its own in some near future. Just to make you interested Horoscope is one of the main conditions for your future marriage, so when you think you read “that crap” too often, just remember what you read here. In India if your horoscope combination isn’t promising, if the chances for success aren’t too high according to Horoscope: NO matrimony!
Of course I went through potential candidates, but nothing for me, first of all I don’t belong to any caste and besides I’m almost too old already, to sum it up; I don’t stand a chance.
In this chaos of ours I would like to say that I hardly wait to get back to my country, but when I read news from Croatia it makes me wonder. Yes I hardly wait to see everyone I love, but things people often see as problem and how much money are they are about to spend on certain things in the current economical situation, makes me just want to fly over the country on a way to some other. Politicians who end in jail next to ex prime minister for robbing the whole nation and that same nation doing nothing but worrying about destroying gay friendly environment which many of us were trying to built for years, just leads me to the conclusion that sacred cows on the roads are not issue at all when compared to moral insanity at my home country. And if I think of all those young beautiful girls marring old rich guys, arranged marriages become less hypocrite and more logical solution. Namaste!
It has never been so hard for me to write a blog; India is simply something really hard to be described. Really bad and good at the same time. In order to describe you at least a part of all kinds of feelings collapsing in my head for the last two weeks I should start from the beginning, but the problem is that India has neither beginning nor the end, it is absolute chaos each step of the way. This also must be a reason why they say for it, that it settles you down. In this chaos there isn’t any other option but to accept everything around you just as it is.
So forget about temples, incense sticks and their priests, making peace with Universe is coming from some other direction. It just forces you to find peace inside you. I haven’t seen a lot of India yet, so all this written here is based only on things I have seen so far. And they say it takes a lifetime to discover it whole. Before coming here I was of a strong belief that some traveling I did earlier, like hidden parts of Africa or almost whole Cambodia, had absolutely prepared me for India. I was sure nothing could surprise or shock me more than things I saw before. Oh how wrong I was. Nothing is like India so far.
For instance I don’t know how to explain you the way how many of them stare at me every single moment. All kinds of glances; from staring at me like if I was a wonder , or obviously a sex object, all the way to looking at me with sympathy or disgust. It is almost the same with all foreigners, but I get some extra bonus here since I’m blond and a girl. But I have found the solution I have started wearing scarf around my head, every time I go outside of my apartment. It really does help, besides I still haven’t seen any other blond girl, or they’re also hiding themselves. Still I don’t blame them. Most of them have probably never seen a blond girl before and there are so many of them living on the streets, meaning they hadn’t even had the opportunity of seeing one on TV.
WELCOME TO INDIA
Right after landing in Ahmedabad I had to find out what doing business in Indian way sometime means. Apartment which they should have had prepared for me long time ago, well they still don’t have it. Welcome to India! On the way to my temporarily accommodation there wasn’t too much light in the streets, but there were many cows and a lot of poverty. By poverty I mean people who sleep on the streets and the ones who have a “house” made out of old sheet, carton, maybe few old bricks. Either way something compared to what tent would be a penthouse. There are also many of them who just sleep on the streets, all together, thousands of them. Then there’s Indian traffic, I still don’t get it how it actually works. There are absolutely no rules, there are no forbidden directions, turnings when you are allowed to do it, there are some traffic lights, but nobody cares about them. They just drive however they feel like, directed by some force from above. And there’s horn, those millions of all types of vehicles use it every five seconds, each of them, it doesn’t matter if there’s reason for it or not. Horn is there so they can use it.
Temporarily accommodation..I have arrived to a some small house, which isn’t bad. There is some old Indian lady, her granddaughter and some other Indian girl in her early twenties. They’re sitting, not making any sound and just stare at me for few moments. One of the girls guides me to my room, seems like we’re sharing it, between our beds max 15 inches distance. Just when I was about to go outside of the house for few moments to feel Indian air on my skin, NO! Doors are locked after ten; you can’t go outside before morning. All right, I will at least take a shower, no again, no water; they often run out if it by the evening! But on the other hand they do have Wi-Fi that works flawless. That’s India!
With the sound of loud fan combined with high level of humidity and heat, me and my Indian roommate greeted the morning. Since officially I still didn’t have a place to stay, have decided to go to Bombay, while a friend of mine who I met last year while traveling is also coming there. That same people who picked me up from the airport the night before, are taking me to something that should be a bus station, while explaining that there is no need for me to take a plane considering the fact that bus is safe enough, besides it has sleeping compartments. Indeed it has, the whole buses like this one, are turned into some strange places for sleeping. With just some curtains between you and of course bus is older than me. That bus was all but good way to get to Bombay. Me, blond alien surrounded by 30 males and two females who left it on the way much before me. I will remember that journey for a long time, from a fear which maybe wasn’t justified since nothing bad happened to me, to indescribable discomfort, followed by endless sadness and sorrow on the way. Unfortunately I can’t even say that landscape has been great enough to make it worth it. It only made me wonder about so many things in life and world we live in. What if I was born in a place like this, under these circumstances? Some of the parts were too hard to say, big nothing, woods and mud, thousands of people living in houses made of materials we would refer to as trash and hundreds of cows. Places where people don’t seem to have any contact with the world we are all part of. If you were smart as Einstein, it wouldn’t help, seemed like something you could never move away from.
To hug my friend and have a familiar face next to me, after 12 hours in that bus was…just as it looks like on the photo.
CHILDREN ON THE STREETS
Since everybody keeps on talking about Bombay as the best place in India, I was expecting something really good. And it is good for certain part of the population, which we belong to, it is also the best reflection of life in India. On one side you will find luxurious apartments, beautiful palaces, nice restaurants, but on the other hand I have never seen a place with so many people sleeping on the sidewalk, here it seemed like millions of them. That’s what makes life in India hard. There isn’t any other place where you will find thousands of homeless people right next to Porsche saloon or something like that. The worst thing for me was to see so many babies sleeping on the sidewalk. They’re not alone, whole families are there, but as most of the people I am more sensitive to children than adults. There is so many of them that at one point my friend almost step on a child, it was dark and there are on the sidewalk. That was the situation where crybaby girl like me simply isn’t able to hold the tears. So how could I see only the good parts of Bombay in situations like this? How to accept that as part of someone’s culture? I wasn’t long enough in Bombay to write good travel writing about it, but will come back and face it again to do so.
A blond girl can also be looked at in this way. For girls I was like a white queen, because I have let them have my coke. But crybaby feels like crying again. Yeah I will burn out in India unless I start accepting things around me. Probably this is coming to peace with destiny, what many keep on talking about. Still too big of a problem for me. That also might be the peace; many people seem to get here.I hope to find those places in India, for which many people claim that they give you all of the answers. And trash, yeah there’s too much of it as well, but obviously it doesn’t stand in the way to all of us sitting on the beach and enjoying the view.
POSITIVE SIDES OF INDIA
Coming back to Ahmedabad… Airplane this time and there it goes more positive things in India. Since I still don’t have a place to live, get used to it, when they say you’ll have it by tomorrow it often means in few weeks, my boss gives me his apartment to stay in. He actually moved out till I get a place, man drives to work every day for an hour instead 10 minutes. Here I must say that he didn’t have to it at all, since this isn’t my companies’ responsibility, but organization’s I came here through. It’s hard for me to imagine that any other boss I had so far in my country would do such thing. Now I live in a great place even for western European terms, gym and pool in the building, something I won’t have for sure when they finally find a place for me. But the view through my window is again some other India.
Yet this is far better than living on the streets, at least they have water and a house to stay.
Already first day at work revealed their nice personality; of course here I am not a blond alien. Girls accept me if I was here since always and hug me all the time, we became friends instantly. Far better environment for work than ones I sometimes had. I find out that I’m here to be their supervisor; I will be checking what they are writing along with my writings. Nice change for me in life, I am far away from my country where these kinds of position often get people who don’t know what Art Deco means or what Mensa represents, but they are someones sons. In India works starts at 10, you are not in a rush, it’s India. But still we work till 19:00. Time for lunch is a special feeling, our office turns into a restaurant and I get a chance to try something local from their homes, they share everything they bring. I sometimes get a feeling they really want me to like their food, who wouldn’t love them?
Going out form the building and on that muddy road, with many holes, brand new shining Porsche, I’m really not able to restrain myself.. Seriously Dude? And keep on walking, if I could only know how it feels like to drive it on these roads.. India,..home of biggest contradictions.
In next few days, my new friends took me to some festival held in the city at the moment and showed me how normal it is if there’s three of us sharing a motorcycle. I got used to this already when traveling in south east Asia, that it’s totally normal to put whole family on it, just I didn’t have the chance to try it, so far. I don’t even have to mention that nobody uses helmets here.
Including all good and bad sides of my staying here so far, I would still recommend to everyone to put themselves in a situation where you need to adopt yourself to totally different world and culture at least once in a lifetime. Maybe you don’t have to take potentially dangerous bus, there are other ways and places, but staying forever in your comfort zone, can’t teach you too much about life and values in it nor about the world we are all part of. Even less about the fact how insignificant as individuals are we. Namaste! India is huge country and there are many places to be seen, so I don’t want to think that it is hard to find beauty here. And since I will be here for some time I hope to bring you as many travel writings as I can.