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This Is The Incredible India That I Love So Much

Cow in Pahar Ganj
It’s been only five days, five quick days, but already my love for India has once again been re-confirmed. I wasn’t exactly sure how it would feel to be back in this intriguing nation this time around as my last visit was a somewhat distant three years ago and my life has changed a great deal since then.

Perhaps India would no longer excite me. Perhaps I would find the intensity and chaos to be too much for me these days. Perhaps I’d be better to just stick with the memories of my previous visits and not try to relive my experiences.

Those are the kind of thoughts that swirled around inside my head during the weeks leading up to my arrival, reaching the peak of their intensity mid-way through my flight to Delhi last week.

And then that flight landed and I stepped foot outside the airport where I immediately encountered that all-too-familiar sea of Indian faces waiting for arriving passengers, many holding signs, all jostling for space among the crowd, some wearing jeans, some in uniforms, others wearing a shalwar kamiz or the robe of a Buddhist monk, women wandering the area in their bright, multicolored saris, there were Sikhs and Hindus and Muslims and Tibetans and more, many were sipping cups of chai, and all of them were helping to provide a glimpse of things to come, of the brilliant adventure that awaits, for all those visitors walking out of the airport.

Delhi Airport

As I myself stood there for a moment in front of all those people, just minutes after my arrival, I took a deep breath and cracked a small smile. This first sight of India was all it took for me to realize that the bond between this country and I was still as strong as it ever has been.

Why I Love India…

Now that five days have passed, that feeling is even stronger. After all, in this short period of time, I have already been blessed by a holy man, encountered two massive elephants, not to mention cows, bulls, donkeys, monkeys and pigs wandering around the streets, found myself stuck in the middle of an impromptu festival procession, been hit in the leg by a rickshaw, interacted and enjoyed interesting conversations with dozens of locals, drank dozens of cups of chai with shop owners, hotel employees and other strangers I’ve met…

Sabzi Market, Pahar Ganj

…accepted an invitation to someone’s home where I ate a supremely delicious home-cooked meal of dahl and mixed vegetables alongside a small group of Indians representing several regions of the country and several different religions as well, stuffed my face with food from my favorite roadside food stalls in Connaught Place, stepped in a huge pile of cow crap in the middle of the street, got that wonderful shave for 40 cents from the barber I’ve been to many times over the years, drank a yummy sweet lassi every day, witnessed a late-night wedding celebration in the middle of the lane near my hotel, ate fresh pomegranates and papayas, survived the crossing of several insanely busy roads (crosswalks nowhere in sight!), had a most pleasant exchange with a heavily armed soldier while at the airport, took a ride on the impressive Delhi metro and watched a parade involving traditional Indian music, chanting, fireworks and men in uniform riding around on white horses.

While some of the experiences mentioned above might seem positive and others may seem a bit on the unfortunate side of things, this is what India is all about for the traveler… non-stop exposure to a completely different way of life and to an environment that repeatedly shocks, surprises and confuses, and quite often, at the very same time, overjoys and changes the lives of foreign visitors.

Shoe Men in Delhi

And this is the India that I have loved for so many years, the India that has enticed me to return over and over again for so long, the India that, as it turns out, I still love so very much.

Thank You!

On a side note, I just wanted to give every one of you readers, as I like to do quite often, a huge thank you. Without the community that you helped create on this site, there is no possible way that WanderingEarl.com would have been named one of TIME magazine’s Best Blogs of 2012 last week. So once again, I thank you.

And between that and being in India with my group, this sure has proven to be one of the most memorable months of my blogging career.


Let’s hear your thoughts, good and bad, about India and please share any questions you may have about traveling to this country as well!

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77 Responses to This Is The Incredible India That I Love So Much

  1. surya says:

    Hai Earl. Thank you for all about India. I am Indian, from Karnataka, South India. I also wish you to travel to south part of India. it’s all about greeneries, natures, historical temple like SHRINGERI, AIHOLE, PATTADAKALLU and so many are there. and I really thank you for giving helpful information to our foreign brothers and sisters. if you want any information, please ask me, I will provide my best. I mentioned my email id in Email section. Thank you.

  2. Monnish says:

    Hello Wandering Earl,

    I’ve sung praises of your blog to several of my acquaintances over the last few weeks(which was when I was introduced to it, via a random Google search). Your eloquent combination of valuable travel information(especially pertaining to prices of lodges, huts and hotel rooms, to name a few) and an almost evangelical devotion to the sanctity of a traveler’s life appeals to me at an almost visceral level. :D

    I agree with most of what you say, despite being a shut-in by nature………and environment. Which puts me in a unique position to appreciate your way of life.

    I am Indian by nationality, by the way. Born and raised outside India, but living and working in New Delhi at the moment..

    My partner…….(or girlfriend as the case may be) will be visiting India in approximately 8 months for about two weeks. I’ve decided on a Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Goa itinerary, with a heavy emphasis on Goa(wouldn’t want to overwhelm the gal), basically following your own journey through these places.

    Please offer your suggestions on any changes to said travel path. I really want the second week to be in Goa to allow us time to unwind and……”relax”, so to speak. But could we fit anything else besides those three North Indian cities into our first week if we wanted to, and what would those other cities be?

    You’re awesome.

    Monnish

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Monnish – Thank you for that comment and it’s great to have you as a reader. Glad that you’ve been able to connect with a lot of what I talk about. As for your itinerary, maybe you could add Udaipur? You could do 2 days in Delhi, morning visit to Taj Mahal on the third day, then continue on to Jaipur. On the 5th day, drive to Udaipur for 2 days and then fly from there to Goa. That might be nice since Udaipur is a solid, and romantic, destination that almost every traveler loves!

      • Monnish says:

        Hello Wandering Earl,

        Sorry it took so long for me to reply, but thank you for the suggestion. I’ve decided to tack Udaipur on the itinerary after all. :)

        Monnish.

  3. Pingback: The Day I Saw a Headless Man in India (How Would You React?) - Wandering Earl

  4. viveek says:

    thank you for thus lovly share man ,………… we love u to …… n alll……
    i am from u.k(india) n i feel vry proud to say am a india nd a himalyan …. :)
    thnxxxxxxxxxx for thiis

  5. Hi Earl,

    Oh yes, I hear ya … well, obviously as my travel blog is all about India! I hope we get a chance to drink lassis together one of these days. I’m in India until mid-April 2013.

    Mariellen
    Breathedreamgo

  6. Biju says:

    Dear Earl- Thanks for being the pied piper of India. I am 37 and have lived away from India for last 2 years and already missing it.. Have got introduced to your blog while doing a bit of research on Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Was heavily helpful..

    Bit of suggestion, have no idea whether you have gone beyond the backwaters of Kerala, Since you are there try Waynad in Norther Kerala..

    Keep doing the great job.. God bless you..

    Biju

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Biju – Thank you for the comment and I have been beyond the backwaters and will actually be done there again during this trip as well. I’m looking forward to seeing even more of Kerala this time around!

  7. Priyank says:

    Hey Earl, I love reading such accounts from other travellers; it shows me perspectives that I would sadly (or fortunately) never be able to see. :-)

    • Earl says:

      Hey Priyank – That is how it works usually…next time you’re in India you can now follow the above and hopefully have similar experiences for yourself :)

  8. rose says:

    I love my India : )

  9. It sounds fabulous. Enjoy, and congrats on the TIME honor!

  10. Brian Wadman says:

    I’m coming to India in 2014! Congrats on the recognition!!!

  11. Coco Marie says:

    I cannot wait to go to India one day. Thanks for the post–you just reconfirmed this want!!!

  12. Elvira says:

    I am going in three freaking days. In 3 days, I will be on my way to experience the trip of my life, because what could be more of an opposite country than mine than this one? I am going on a boat in the backwaters of Kerala, celebrate Diwali in Coimbatore, backpack up to Mysore, Varanasi and then go on a 10 day tour through Rajasthan (where sleeping in the desert and camel riding is included for example) and probably end up with a couple of days of Yoga, just like all mainstreamers do…
    I can’t wait. I am so scared. But I can’t wait.
    Good luck with the rest of your trip!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Elvira – How is it going in India so far??? I’m sure you’re loving it and maybe we’ll cross paths during our travels in this country!

  13. First of all, congratulations! :) Second of all, to answer your question about India, I have a great opinion about this country thanks to all the wonderful and amazing Indian women and men that I met until now.

  14. To be honest, India scares me a bit. But your description makes it sound like a place I would enjoy experiencing… at least once.

    • Earl says:

      Hey Stephanie – I think that if you did travel here, it wouldn’t take long to realize that most of what people fear about traveling around this country, is really nothing to fear at all!

  15. Preeti says:

    Seriously Earl, I’m so jealous. I head to India is a little over a month on December 9 and I can’t wait. We’ll be landing in Rajisthan and I don’t think I’ve ever been more exited for a trip in my life.

    Have fun and enjoy the wedding/festival season in India. There is nothing like it. Btw, have you ever been to a Punjabi wedding?

    • Earl says:

      Hey Preeti – That’s very cool that you’re heading to India so soon! And I don’t think I’ve been to Punjabi wedding, although I know they last for several days, so it would be a great experience I’m sure.

  16. Steve Whitty says:

    Congratulations on making the TIME magazine list. It is richly deserved. Your blog tells wonderful stories and serves as an inspiration.

  17. Craig says:

    Way to go Earl. Getting on TIME’s list is fantastic. Hopefully it won’t bring too many people and crash your site :) Your making me want to travel to India now, a place I had never considered before. I am excited about hearing your adventures with your group too. Good luck.

    • Earl says:

      Hey Craig – Hopefully by the time I finish writing about this current India trip you’ll really be interested in visiting this country! Every day of the this trip has been memorable so far and India, as always, is proving to be the bizarre, confusing, life-changing destination that it typically proves to be. Well worth a visit!

  18. Ava Apollo says:

    I’ve always been a little scared to go (my sister got really really sick there) but I’ve heard so many good things, maybe I need to give it a chance.

    • Earl says:

      Hey Ava – I highly recommend giving it a chance…there are too many amazing experiences to be had over here as it really is a country that is unlike any other!

  19. Vishal says:

    Would have been nice to gulp a Kingfisher with you in Paharganj. :)

  20. Mark Wiens says:

    Great to read about your arrival back to India – a place where so many random events and unique experiences are possible. I will finally be going to India towards the end of this year! I’m extremely excited! And huge congratulations on being one of the top blogs on TIME, thank is amazing and well deserved!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Mark – When are you coming to India? I’ll be here until mid-January so perhaps we will finally get to meet up??

      • Mark Wiens says:

        That would be fantastic to see you in India. I’m flying into Kolkata (cheapest place to fly from Bangkok) on the 24th of December, on a 1 way ticket.

        • Wandering Earl says:

          Hey Mark – I’ll be in Kolkata from December 18 – 21 but then I have to go to Chennai for a speaking engagement. But let’s see if we can meet up somewhere after that…I’m sure we can work something out.

  21. Great to hear that you are enjoying your stay in India. And I wish that the rest of your time here is as much enjoyable.

    Those are pretty much the reasons why I love my country and there are some more. There can’t be enough reasons to love India, isn’t it?

    And yes, congratulations on the time mention

    Cheers
    Venky

    • Earl says:

      Hey Venkat – There is definitely no shortage of reasons to love this country!!! And I keep on finding more reasons every single day.

  22. Congratulations Earl! I am inspired by your posts and this post, particularly heightened my interests on India which still tops my bucketlists.

    Cheers from the Philippines :)

    • Earl says:

      Hey Wends – That’s great that India is at the top of your list and I really do hope you’ll get to experience it soon! I’m sure you will love your experiences over here :)

  23. David Choi says:

    Once I decided to go to India but It was really difficult decision where I go. it depending on the theme of my trip i think. even though there are a lots of resources about nice places, the regions of India but you know how India is sooooooo big! as i’m a poor back packer wanting, if i go to travel, want to go anywhere as long as i can. India is a soooo challenge to discover with limited budget. any suggestion?

    • Earl says:

      Hey David – Actually, India is an excellent place to explore with a limited budget as it is one of the cheapest countries in the world to visit. Everything from accommodation to transportation to food is very inexpensive so you could travel all over this country for several months and not even spend the same amount of money as you would if you spend three weeks in Europe!

  24. I am in love with India before even visiting it! It is one of the countries that I truly want to visit and spend some time in, at least 6 months, or more if possible! Looking forward for your new posts about it as you tour it this time!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Mina – Glad to hear that India appeals to you an 6 months is a good amount of time to spend here. It’s definitely not a country for a short one week visit and the longer you can stay the better!

  25. Colleen says:

    Wow! Congratulations on Time magazine’s best blogs of 2012! You’re one of my favorites, too. = )

    India is the best. It’s totally compelling. I’ve spent a total of 6 months on 2 trips there and I can’t get enough. I’ve hardly made a dent. There’s no place like it. The food is heavenly, the best in the world in my opinion.

    Counting the days ’till I can go back.

  26. Forest Parks says:

    I CAN’T wait to visit some day! I need to work on getting myself financially ahead in 2013 but maybe 2014 is the year!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Forest – You’ll make it here I’m sure at some point and I’m confident that you will be as fascinated by this country as I am every time I visit!

  27. Addison S says:

    I too share your love for this beautiful land. Never before have I experienced so many emotions in such short spaces of time than when in India. Savour every moment, Earl.

  28. Bike Kilic says:

    Earl first of all congrats! :)
    I wanted to ask which part of India you traveled? I really want to go to India but it is a big country and can not decide where to go there:)

    • Earl says:

      Hey Bike – I’ve traveled all over the country during my previous 8 or 9 visits. My favorite area is the north/northwest as that seems to offer the greatest diversity in terms of culture, food and geography. But at the same time, there are incredibly rewarding places to visit and things to be experienced in every corner of the country. It’s probably best to come to India without much of a plan and then just see where the adventure leads once you’re actually over here!

  29. Michele says:

    I can honestly say I think it’s wonderful and about time your blog has been highlighted on a large scale like that! You write beautifully and your photos are always great. I’m sure I speak for many long-time readers when I say I love how you keep it real. Congratulations!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Michele – Much appreciated and thank you as always for being a reader and offering your thoughts in the comments of many posts!

  30. Congrats Earl, I echo the sentiment of my friend above (who I’ll be driving across India with in two short months!), you are a huge inspiration and your love of travel, and India, is infectious!!! Have a great time!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Sarah – Driving across India?? That sounds like quite an adventure! Do let me know if you have any questions or need any advice for your trip and I can’t wait to hear some of your stories!

  31. Kim says:

    Ah, we are headed to India in January and this post makes me so excited for things to come! Congrats on the TIME Magazine shout out- you deserve it!

    • Earl says:

      Thanks Kim! And if you have any questions at all about your upcoming India trip, just let me know. I’m always happy to offer advice/recommendations as I could talk/write about this country for days on end!

  32. Gaurav says:

    Hi Earl,

    Hope you are having a good time here. I sent you a message on FB. Man do i stand a chance to meet you in person for a cup of tea or something. I am sure your schedule must be tight but i am open to alter my schedule. It will be great to meet the man who has such a vast travel experience.

    Gaurav

  33. amit says:

    Earl mate its always pleasure reading ur posts.
    if u still in delhi do visit Indian coffee house its probably india’s oldest coffee shop and enjoy it in quarter of a dollar.
    keep posting ….

  34. THANK YOU for introducing me to incredible India. So far I completely understand your love affair with this country, and hope when I leave I am feel the same way. Congrats again on the TIME Top 25. I am so excite for you, and you do deserve it!

    • Earl says:

      Hey Christine – Glad to hear that you’re starting to fall in love with this country as well! There really is no other country like it, as I hope you’ve discovered :)

  35. Super de duper congrats on the TIME mention!!! You deserve it. Enjoy beautiful India for me!

  36. Shalu Sharma says:

    Nice picture of wondering cow down the street. It’s a nuisance. I am glad you liked the dahl and mixed vegetables.

  37. twoscamps says:

    Earl, makes us want to return to India – for a third time! Enjoyed your travelogue and the wonderful photos! Maureen

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