My Indian Experience...
Highs: Attending an Indian marriage; the peacefulness of the mountains and lakes of Kashmir; cute
children saying 'hello!'; having hot water on our houseboat; private boat rides on the Ganges in
Varanasi; the temples at Khajuraho; unexpected place called Orchha; pampering myself beyond belief
at my hotel for 3 nights in Bhopal; riding 1st class/AC on the Shatabdi Express to Bhopal; my stay at
the Wildernest Resort in Goa; Agonda Beach in Goa.
Lows: Seeing sheep practically butchered at our doorstep; driving all over Delhi; the sounds of
blaring horns; lots of spitting taking place; smells of latrine action; frustration of dealing with
rickshaw-wallahs (not all of the time...but most of the time); overnight bus ride in something far from
what I would call 'deluxe' (as that's how they put it to me).
Best Moment: I truly can't come up with just one. Attending an Kashmiri wedding was a
once-in-a-lifetime experience. But being on the Ganges in Varanasi during sunrise had such a
fascinating appeal. And then there were all those spa treatments and absolute bliss in Bhopal. And I
can't forget about my time up at the Wildernest Resort...
Craziest Moment: Seeing a dead baby floating in the Ganges River in Varanasi (as babies are
seen as holy so they aren't burned first). We still don't know why rocks weren't tied to the baby so
that it sank. Another one was watching a shooting of a scene of a Bollywood movie and watching a cow
dressed in his marigold garlands run away from its handlers.
Smells: The smell of burning things; street food; urine (gross but true); spa-like smells; incense.
Sounds: Horns blaring; animals; prayer call; Diwali festivities (firecrackers, etc.); Bollywood music;
Kashmiri songs and music; fireworks and firecrackers; "Why not?" when you ask a question - that is
their way of saying 'yes'; birds and insects at night from my cottage at the Wildernest Resort; the
ocean in Goa.
Sights: Mountains in Kashmir; Delhi streets; Nagreen Lake in Srinigar; an Indian wedding; the
body of a dead baby in the Ganges River in Varanasi; cremations at two ghats in Varanasi; Sarnath -
the birthplace of Buddhism; Khajuraho temples; fort in Orchha (50 rupees); a rainforest; Candolim
Beach in Goa, cows on the beach; Chinese fishing nets.
Tastes: Daal; kofta; curries; masalas; grilled lamb; saag (spinach); dosas; momos; paneer; Kashmiri
apples and apple juice; palak paneer; naan; Italian food in Khajuraho! (pizza and pasta); lassis; beyond
amazing Mediterranean food at my hotel in Bhopal; sheesha (does that count as a 'taste'?); Goan fish
curry; tropical fruit in Goa; upma; some tasty sweets for Diwali; cheese-garlic naan (yum!); paneer
tikka pizza from Pizza Hut; uttapam; homemade (and excellent!) chocolate up in Ooty; Hide & Seek
Activities: Pre-sunrise boat ride in the Nagreen Lake to see the vegetable market; day-trek in the
mountains in Kashmir; a wedding and all of its events; Panna Tiger Reserve (500 rupees); many spa
treatments in Bhopal; seeing two Bollywood movies; Ayurvedic spa treatments; motorbike tour of
Purchases: A sari ($65); garnet necklace ($18); jade necklace ($20), sandstone earrings ($2);
silver ring ($2); Kashmiri wool shawl ($20); shirt with a Ganesh-like ellie on it ($.50); Kashmiri bag; a
silk duvet cover with pillow and cushion covers ($53) and an excellent quality pashmina ($39) in
Varanasi (city known for silk); a 'What Would Buddha Do?' book (under $4); a Kama Sutra book
(while in Khajuraho) - $1; a Ganesh pendant ($2.50); A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Namesake
(reproduced books sold on the street); lots of Ayurveda products; 7 Bollywood CDs.
Street Food: Curries; tandoori; fried puffs; ice cream; lassis; Kashmiri bread; fruit; peanuts with
onions, spices and lemon juice.
Western Companies Out Here: McDonald's; Ruby Tuesday; Domino's; Pizza Hut; Baskin
Robbins; Esprit; Marks & Spencer.
Other General Info...
Visa needed? Yes. I got this in San Francisco.
Type of currency? Indian rupee. $1 equals about 40 rupees.
Things India Is Known For: Bollywood; spices; Hinduism; yoga; Delhi Belly; holy cows; Taj
Mahal; monsoons; tigers.
Religion: Hindu is the major religion. The others include Islam, Christianity, Sikh, Buddhist,
Jainism and Parsi.
Language: There are at least 18 different languages in this country. The main one is Hindi. I also
experienced Malayalam when I was in Kerala.