I'm surrounded by Indian culture. While studying in the US, I heard endless stories from Indian friends about their country. Now I live in England and come across someone of Indian origin in every other person. Bollywood movies are consistently screened in theatres. I have my share of weekly curry. Indian wealth and its place in the world economy play a big role and rival China. All these factors add to the attraction to India; a country already rich with its historical affluence.
I was very excited with the prospect of going to India and getting a taste of a very different culture to mine. Acquaintances who have visited the country before me and my Indian friends always left me with good impressions. The pictures I have seen were all very mysterious, colourful and grand. The books I read were exciting, mystifying and rich. Unfortunately, now, looking back at my travels in India, I am not left with the best of impressions.
Suffering from an influx of tourists and visitors, Indian tourism practitioners can be very rude and reckless. You may even come across cockroaches at the airport, be provided with dirty linen in a five-star hotel, smell feces in the streets and experience rats walking in between your feet at train stations. I tried to remind myself that I was in a different culture and country and ignore these disturbances.
However, what upset and disappointed me the most was the lack of belief in charity. Despite all the developments in the country, whilst the rich are getting richer, the homeless are more and more widespread. What is even more disturbing is that the rich and the wealthy – as much as I could see at the time, I would be wrong in generalising – refuse to share even their leftovers with people living on the street.
If you are prepared to ignore these facts and willing to accept the current state of the Indian society as it is, you can have a very exciting trip by visiting the unique historical monuments. The sites one must see at least once in a lifetime include: The world’s most romantic and beautiful symbol of unconditional love - the Taj Mahal; the mysterious Fathepoursikri built by the Mogul Emperor Akbar to satisfy his own ego, where you can find the harem of the Turkish princess Sultana; the pink city of Jaipur and in this city the Amber Palace built by the Maharajas are among the many.
You can easily imagine yourself here in 1001 Nights stories, find similarities with the Ottoman architecture and make comparisons. The cows, monkeys, pigs and other variety of animals floating freely, bald ibis, woodpeckers and birds like parrots remind travellers that they are in India. If you can prepare yourself to face the adversities that may come your way, India is undoubtedly a must-see to experience a different world.