Shell-shocked: A blog about first impressions of India

Shell-shocked
A blogs about first impressions of India

A couple of days ago I landed in India. I’ve been here a few times, yet bringing people here for the first time is always eye opening. Landing at 4 am. Stumbling off the plane, you gather yourself, collect your bag, grab some local currency from the ATM, and head to the taxi stand. At this point we have dipped our toes into the reality of India. But it is not until you step foot out of the safety of the airport that India seems to hit you in the face. Well, maybe not India, but the humid weather sure does. It is now 5am or so….

India. I have been to more than 40 nations around the world and India is still the most “foreign” location I have found myself. The main thing is that nothing is the same as the western world. The way people think, the “order”, the “organization,” the country – all different.

First impressions: once out of the airport and to the taxi stand, you are still uncertain of the time of day and the “chaos” you see all around you. You may even still be asking the questions: why am I awake? Should I be awake? Where am I? All these questions are viable.

The sun rises as you head to the main bazaar, the Para Gounge. But you have not even gotten a mile away from the airport and your taxi driver is stopping for gas. Of course! Why would you fill up the taxi before you had passengers? That’s just silly. So you and the 3 India virgins in the car with you wait for gas….ok, looks full and on with the journey… Oh wait no, now the car won’t start. At this point I am reminded that this is pretty normal in India. Of course we find ourselves in this situation. Eventually we get going and make it to some little dodgy hotel for a little rest.

Shell-shocked and tired, it is time for rest (7am or so?). Not much going on in the streets, yet the smells and sights of this foreign land are ever present.

After some rest, some food, and some afternoon prayers on the rooftop it is time to get the 4:30pm bus to head to the north. This young group of travelers have never experienced such a journey.

After the 14 hour or so ride up to the mountains and some more rest, we finally get to sit and chat about the Indian experience thus far. Everyone was shocked upon arrival. Overwhelmed by the sights, the smells, the beauty, the pain, the dirt, the cow poop–shell-shocked! Yet, in the slower pace of the mountains, everybody seems to have warmed up to the reality of traveling in India for a bit. Good things are ahead I am sure!