Thursday, April 5, 2012

incredibly, India: in other words

City Palace, Jaipur
Because I haven't used enough words to talk about my three and a half day trip to Incredible India, I'm going to use even more (get comfy!).

Now that I've gotten the details and chronological order of things down on your computer screen, I think I'm going to break it down a little. I like lists, so prepare yourself! I didn't get to share all of my favorite pictures either because they didn't fit with what I was sharing or because I felt like there were already too many pictures and I just couldn't add more, so a few of those will show up as well.

Let me start with some general thoughts and observations. I sprinkled a couple of them throughout the retelling, but here is where I may get a little deeper than the sights I saw. I took a little notebook with me and whenever we were driving somewhere or still for a moment, I would try to jot some things downs so I wouldn't forget the moment or the thought that I had. Let me share a couple of those with you.
Outside Delhi, from the metro.
>>The air was visibly hazy when we landed. Immediately, I thought of China and the smog that lingers over the cities. This was even more blatant than that, for some reason. Despite the haze that would cause a place like Shanghai to seem overcast and gloomy, India was BRIGHT. The sun shone without impediment and this surprised me. You can see evidence of this especially in some of my pictures from the Taj Mahal, and the fact that we wore sunglasses everywhere.

>>Poverty and wealth appeared to coexist on a regular basis. A lot of places I have been strive to hide or push out poverty. Yet, I could see no such evidence of an effort to do this in India. Perhaps it is evidence of how deep the Hindu belief of caste systems has been embedded in society.

>>Arranged marriage is different than my understanding. Mama G had an arranged marriage. However, my conception of it was a lot narrower than how it actually happened. I'm sure this is not how it happens/happened in all societies that practiced a form of arranged marriages, but I had never really thought much about the practice. In India, there are arranged marriages, however, they are not set in stone and made without the input of the individuals. Yes, parents will choose a partner, but then, there is a trial courtship period where the couple can decide if this is what they both want. If they are not happy, they can break it off and the parents will find a new candidate. I'm sure even within these parameters there are extremes at either end, but this sounded a lot more reasonable to me. Mama G had an arranged marriage, but it wasn't something where she met her husband the day they got married and was forced into it. Their parents arranged the match, but they dated for a while before deciding that they wanted to marry each other. This scenario sounded much more like teamwork, and a lot less a form of power usage or control. (PS. I'm not saying that everyone should go and ask their parents to find them someone, or for all parents to suddenly give out applications. This was merely an observation and learning experience into a cultural tradition and practice that was unknown to me.)

>>Honking horns seems like a form of greeting. I know this happens a lot in big cities, but even if there wasn't traffic, people seemed to be honking.

>>I saw a lot of arches grouped in threes. This may or may not have led to a slight obsession with taking photos in said groups of threes, but hey, there were three of us...there were three archways... c'mon who WOULDN'T make that connection? No, but seriously, I noticed them everywhere. Is there a cultural significance to the number three that I missed? Three symbols of India (camel, elephant, horse)?  

>>Driving along, I noticed lots of walls that had brand names painted on them. Whole stretches of brick wall with "Coca Cola" painted in its iconic red and white. There weren't any shops or even hawkers near them. I thought this was curious. Did Coke just have lots of extra paint? Low budget advertising? I'll have to ponder that for a while.
Amber Palace, Jaipur
>>Traffic rules are more like suggestions. Suggestions might even be too strong a word. I thought traffic in China was poor, well I hadn't seen anything yet. I guess when you throw in herds of cows, camels pulling carts and the odd elephant bus, things tend to get a little...improvisational.

>>Men and women were separated everywhere. From the entrance to the Taj Mahal to security check lanes at the airport, there was always a separate line for women and men. This is where the gender population gap was very evident. There was always a long line of men waiting to get in wherever we were standing in line, but the women's line was always short or empty. I did appreciate a women's line for security checks of my person, though.

>>Across India, violence against women is frequent and often goes overlooked. It is almost a norm--however this puzzles me. There is a population gap between the genders, yet violence against and trafficking of women occurs often. Wouldn't something that is scarce be valued more? I didn't have time to really try and get into this, but it makes me wonder what elements are missing within family and even societal structures that could prevent this. Women should be valued inherently, but also because they are in shortage, yet they seem not to be. At least, not to the standards that I am accustomed to. This is a pretty big topic, and perhaps when I know more I'll delve into it more deeply.  

Produce sellers, Jaipur

I couldn't resist
>>The food is AMAZING. There is so much flavor and variety! I didn't have much experience with Indian food prior to this trip, but I loved it! Almost everything I ate was vegetarian (except I might have had meat at our continental breakfast, but I'm not sure), since Anu is vegetarian, but I didn't miss the meat at all. The spices and the flavors made the food anything but boring and I am excited to try and incorporate these types of foods into what I eat on a regular basis. Also, I know I mentioned this before, but I am in love with saffron lassi. Amazing. It cuts the heat and is so scrumptiously yummy. This also made me appreciate the lack of diversity in American vegetarian food options-- it would be tough to go from all of that flavor to having salad be the only veg option in a restaurant.

Well, I believe this is the last of my India saga. I wanted to wrap it up and add in anything I didn't talk about in the other posts, and I think I've done that.

I know you must be tired of reading about India by now, but I hope you saw how much I loved it and should you have the chance, take the opportunity to visit it yourself. I'm so thankful for my friends and for the chance I had to spend this time with them in India-- it was priceless!

Anything you noticed from my retelling or pictures that stuck out to you? Which photo was your favorite? Anyone know where I can get me some good lassi?

P.S. If you want to catch up, or re-read (bless your heart) any of my stories, I've made a page on the top bar that has links to all the days. Enjoy!
P.P.S. There's also one for Singapore, in case you're extra interested :)


  1. Without being cliche-ish... reflective, insightful, like you were trying to 'sponge' as much out of this once-in-a-lifetime experience with both a novice and 'expert' by your side.

    In a nutshell, your most memorable highlights... hazy air (that didn't come across as 'pollution'), the camaraderie of poverty/wealth, a new 'appreciation' of arranged marriages, the normalcy of 'honking horns', arches in trey's, 'out-of-place' brand names, go-with-the-flow traffic norms, the sex classes (separated, for protection?) or attempt-at, since women are violated and abused as objects (and disrespected as persons), and the scrumptiousness of the food.

    I liked the pic of the three of you in the 3 archways...

    Again, with much appreciation for your sharing your heart and experiences - love, from your fam.....

  2. from Ur Beloved Mama: I knew it! I knew it! I will get yimama, YY, yy n d entire clan to arrange marriage 4 U! just sit tied, he b coming round d m'tain n he'll come ;D

    1. you KNOW which photo(s) were my fav! ;) lolll

      but for reals, i love reading your posts! Thanks for posting Squish!!