I realize by browsing the list of articles published so far on the blog of something strange to say the least. Since I travel, India has become, so to speak, a synonym for the word travel. If you combine my different stays, you reach six months and if you talk to me about travel, in general, I put the word India within five minutes. In short, in traveler mode, I sweat India through all the pores of my skin . It will not have escaped you either the name chosen for my blog to a small taste of India also. Yet, and this is the paradox, I have not yet spoken to you about India. One article on the Manali-Leh road , which is by far the most successful article. It is therefore high time to correct the situation. Where does this fascination for this country come from? How did all this begin?
In the beginning was a young man (there it is me), who had not really traveled and who did not feel attracted more than that by those distant lands. I was certainly curious, but I did not really have the profile of the traveler . I had been there for a week in Israel to see a friend, the experience had appealed to me, but far away, I do not know, I did not really care about this kind of trip. I did not grow up in this culture.
I did not really care about this kind of trip.
My studies finished and my diploma in hand (we are in 1997), I sign for my first job in Dublin in Ireland (yes, there are some detours and convolutions in my story, but what do you want, India, that well worth it). And how does one go from Dublin to Bangalore? And quite simply by working on a project that does not work and that is half done in India. One day, my boss asks me “Laurent, do you have a problem if you have to go to India in Bangalore for two weeks with Sinbad?” (No, I did not invent, my colleague was really called Sinbad). I do not really know if it’s a problem for me. I do not think so, why should there be a problem basically. Admittedly, I do not understand much about weekly conference calls with our Indian friends, but it’s probably the fault of Telecom Éireann 1 the Irish national telephone company at this time . So I answer “no problem for me Paul” (yes, my boss’s name was Paul and not Aladin).
Why should there be a problem on the bottom?
What did India represent for me at that time, I do not really know anymore. I had to think about Mother Teresa and La Cite of Joy pretty quickly, but other than that … I went to get some tour guides at the library to see what I could do during the free weekend (yes, a little curious anyway) and here, a visa and two vaccine bites later, I embark for a Dublin-Geneva and Geneva-Delhi, my first long-haul flight . During the flight, to be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself. A long-haul flight, paid at the expense of the box to go to India. My ankles do not swell too much (though if in the plane, a little anyway actually!), But internally, I’m still a little clever.
Eight hours later, we land in Delhi. It is past midnight, but the air is still warm and moist (we are in October). I pick up my luggage and head with Sinbad to the exit. The airport seems a little “tired”, but everything is fine. We cross the doors of the arrival hall and there … Well there my friends, I would give dear to see a picture of my face at this second! Not the one after, not really that second. This fleeting moment will remain, I think, forever etched in my mind. An elephant would have appeared before me, that I would probably not have been more dazed , bewildered , amazed . We first go through an alley with taxis from both sides. Everyone is saying, “you want taxi?” , “Where do you go?” With that particular Indian accent. Sinbad is not too clever, but it seems a little less stunned. He becomes the de facto leader and I do not let him down more than one foot. We end up following a guy who takes us by taxi to the hotel.
They are not beautiful Tata Ambassador?
I take my mind a little in the taxi, not unhappy not to have so many people around me to apologize. We leave the airport sitting at the back of a magnificent Tata Ambassador. And very quickly, the amazement is back. But what is the point of using scholarly words? In fact, I hallucinate seriously ! The driver drives like a sick person. There is little traffic at this late hour, but it does not stop to zigzag between other vehicles, stray dogs and especially cows . Cows in the city center! But what’s that crazy thing? Arrived at the hotel, inevitably, we are ripped off like bruises on the price of the race that we had obviously not even negotiated in advance. The faultless course of the perfect beginner. We were almost eligible for video gag .
A cow in the city? You are probably in India. Another not very far that observes.
Past this slap on arrival, or rather this stroke of elephant leg, will follow two weeks during which I will surprise surprises. I adapt as I can, not too bad actually and much better than Sinbad. I do not necessarily understand much, but I’m fascinated . So, the leader now, it’s me! And guess what, just back in Dublin, I buy a plane ticket Dublin-Delhi to go back, but this time alone and with my backpack four months later. I did not complain to the international immunization center, but obviously the vaccine did not work at all. I contracted a big “travel bug” which I have not healed so far. It happens to me today to try to imagine what would have happened if it had not been this first time.
No, that’s not the symptoms of the travel bug. But we are in India. And in India, we sleep everywhere.
Should we start on the roads of the world in India?
After reading this, one can quite legitimately ask oneself whether to begin the discovery of Asia with a trip to India is such a good idea. The subject is a bit of a horse chestnut on the travel forums. Authorized circles will often tell you that Asia should not be approached from this angle, but rather start with an easier country like Thailand. I myself have often given this speech, but at bottom I am no longer necessarily convinced. On the one hand, if you prepare a minimum, the elephant paw will still be less. The way, very real, which I describe my experience will also appear perhaps exaggerated in the eyes of some. But as I said, I was just not there, but then not prepared at all. I was a little at the mass what . So if you for Asia is India, and well go for it. Just say that it may not be as you would imagine, but to hell with the “reasonable” advice. You will probably not live again this kind of experience, but all the more reason to go right now , now !
And for the rest of my adventures in India? Do not worry, everything comes to those who wait. And to make you wait a little more, I propose you a small visit of Varanasi and Calcutta with Joana of the excellent blog VeniVidiVoyage.