Cow in Pahar Ganj

This Is The Incredible India That I Love So Much

Derek India 80 Comments

Incredible India - Cow in Pahar Ganj
It’s been only five days, five quick days, but already my love for incredible 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.

Incredible India - 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 Incredible 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…

Incredible India - 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.

Incredible India - 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 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 incredible 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!

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 80

  1. Tushar

    Few times while reading or watching photos at a tourist blog I also look at things like a foreigner and then I smile. I like cobblers photo a lot. I smile too as they do.
    Thanks for sharing lovely photos.

  2. surya

    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.

  3. Monnish

    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. 😀

    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.


    1. Wandering Earl

      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!

      1. Monnish

        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. 🙂


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

  5. viveek

    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

  6. Mariellen Ward

    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.


  7. Biju

    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..


    1. Wandering Earl

      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!

    1. Earl

      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 🙂

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Rose – The Ganga says namaste back…it was quite nice being there again…still a peaceful place in the evening by that river.

  8. Elvira

    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!

    1. Earl

      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!

    1. Earl

      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!

  9. Preeti

    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?

    1. Earl

      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.

  10. Craig

    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.

    1. Earl

      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!

    1. Earl

      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!

  11. Mark Wiens

    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!

        1. Wandering Earl

          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.

  12. Venkat Ganesh @ India Backpack Motorbike

    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


    1. Earl

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

    1. Earl

      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 🙂

  13. David Choi

    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?

    1. Earl

      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!

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey David – Earning money in India is a challenge for foreigners. Since it is a developing country, there just aren’t many opportunities.

    1. Earl

      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!

  14. Colleen

    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.

    1. Earl

      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!

  15. Addison S

    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.

  16. Bike Kilic

    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:)

    1. Earl

      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!

  17. Michele

    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!

    1. Earl

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

  18. Sarah Somewhere

    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!

    1. Earl

      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!

  19. Kim

    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!

    1. Earl

      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!

  20. Gaurav

    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.


  21. amit

    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 ….

  22. Christine Hayes

    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!

    1. Earl

      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 🙂

Leave a Reply to Earl Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *