India: The Country of Contrasts
It’s still early in the year and I hope this year, you choose to just be and emancipate yourself from undue pressure.
I was blessed to be able to spend the last few weeks of last month and last year in Asia – India, Phuket, Thailand, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I will be sharing some of my experiences from those trips with you, starting with India
“Every single thing that you think about India is true, but the exact opposite is also true.”
I spent about ten days exploring and discovering multiple facets of India with a group of 32 other people as part of a school Global Study Trip (GST). The quote above was a statement made by one of the business leaders with whom we met, and is the simple summary of my experience in India. In those 10 days, we visited the cities (and towns) of Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. Those few days showed me so much more than I can capture in this post, so I will just highlight a few of the shocking/surprising/hilarious experiences.
One of the things that shocked me about India, especially Mumbai, is the glaring wealth disparity. It was the norm to see huge skyscrapers right next to slums. In other countries I’ve visited, I am used to seeing distinct rich and not-so-rich neighbourhoods. On a tour of Dharavi, the largest slum in India and one of the largest in the world (which is also where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed), I was able to see the poor conditions in which a large population of Indians live. Another thing I saw was hope. Instead of leaving the slum feeling pity for its inhabitants, I was inspired by that hope and the entrepreneurial drive that the residents of this slum displayed.
Another surprising thing was how much I stood out in India as the black girl with braids. I had assumed that because I was travelling with mostly people of the “blonde hair, and blue eyes persuasion,” they would stand out and I will be treated normally but the reverse was the case. People asked me to be in pictures more times than I can remember, strangers asked to touch my hair (I politely declined), and someone even shoved a baby in my arms this one time so they could get a picture.
For years, I had dreamed of visiting India, and idealized it in my head. It was great to see it for what it truly was – the good and bad of that. I had an unforgettable time in India, but the truth is I don’t have the words to explain it so I’d say you should visit, if you have the opportunity to, and draw your own conclusions. Will I love to visit India again? “Yes.” Am I in a hurry to go back? “No.”
Enjoy the pictures below, and I will be happy to answer any questions you have in the comments section.
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Image Source: Author’s Own