It was clear to me that India is a land full of contrasts since the day I arrived to Delhi and saw a small market full of goats and cows just in front of an ultra modern shopping mall. I had two weeks to travel in the north of the country before starting my internship with Infosys in Bangalore. I decided to go around Rajasthan and then spend a few days in Varanasi. Rajasthan had spectacular palaces, forts and markets, and the number of monkeys and people in traditional clothes provided many photo opportunities. However, I ended tired of being pursued by tourist hunters all the time. Just to give an example, in my first day in Jaipur, after walking two blocks in the city center, I was being followed by two children selling postcards, one camel and four women with baskets on their heads trying to pose for pictures.
Varanasi was a very different experience. While the city is not beautiful at all, the spiritual load was incredible. Watching the people wash their sins away in the sacred water of the Ganges river in the early morning, or watching the cremations from the balcony of my hostel, next to the Harishchandra burning ghat, were very powerful experiences. I felt a strong impact when I visited Manikarnika, the main burning ghat of the city, and met an old woman that was living in a retirement house waiting for her death, while trying to collect money to purchase the wood she needed for her cremation. While there were no camels or amateur “models” in Varanasi, the city was full of very friendly guides, who just want to help tourists as long as they go to their silk stores at the end of the day, were they will surely be ripped off with prices that triple the market average.
Since I arrived to Bangalore I have visited Hampi, Kerala, Mysore and Mumbai, and all those places are very special in different ways. I’m closing the tourism of the trip visiting Hyderabad and Amritsar, a city in Punjab where the golden temple of the sikh is located. My overall impression is that there are many things to see in India, and one year would probably not be enough to visit all the interesting places of the country, but travelling for a long time around here can be exhausting. The noise, spicy food, tourist hunters and general disorganization may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I guess it’s all part of the India experience. I’m saving my impressions of the internship at Infosys for a future blog entry, since that’s a long subject. Greetings from Bangalore.