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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some of the Best Lessons from my Travels in India


Agra Fort 02

You hear and read stories about India, how different and unique it is. But as with anything, you will never really know what these people mean until you experience it first-hand. It is huge and is considered to be a sub-continent. There’s a lot to see – the chaotic streets, the colorful saris, desert, beaches, mountains, heritage sites, forts, and temples. But more than these, the experiences I treasured the most from my travels in India are the people and the perspectives I got from observing their daily lives.

Delhi 02

Delhi

You can never take things personally. 

Ride a rickshaw in the chaotic streets of the cities of India. You will notice how crazy and fast their driving is. And the honking! It never stops. Our wonderful host there explained it all to us: "There are no rules here. You can do anything you want as long as you honk." Their reflexes are amazing. They can drive really fast but they can also step on the breaks really fast. Even in the smallest of streets, everyone and everything is involved. The people, cars, rickshaws, animals, motorcycles, and bicycles. When you or the vehicle you're in get almost hit, you don't really care. Your anger or frustration never really lingers too long. There's just so much going on around you that there's no time to even dwell on any emotion. For me, it's just crazy amazing.

Old Delhi 3

You have to let go of a few rupees.

Touts are everywhere in India. And they don't care if you just got off a 16-hour bus or train ride, or if you're tired and hungry, or if you haven't had a good sleep in a week. They will tell you that they know your hostel and at the end of the ride, you're in another hostel. You will frustratingly explain to them that it is not your hostel and you've already made reservations in another one, but they will not budge. You can bargain all you want, and most of the time they will agree to your price. But it may take you more than 5 minutes to do that. Your patience will definitely be tested. But at the end of it all, you will realize that you can spare a few rupees. At the end of it all, it really doesn't matter that much to you. But to those people, it can probably provide a meal for them or for their families. After a few days of trying to bargain, I learned to let go and spare some. At the end of the day, most of these people don't really mean any harm. They're just really out there to earn a living and get by.

Agra Fort

There are certain realities that are not meant to be understood, but acknowledged and to a certain extent to be respected.

In my opinion, cows and animals are more free in India than women. After drinking out in New Delhi at a little past midnight, our friend decided to bring us to a bus station where they serve really good omelet and chai. My friend was at first hesitant to tell me to not go out. Apparently, women are not really allowed to be out late at night, even more so at past midnight. There was this woman we met during a train ride who asked me how free women are in the Philippines. And I can honestly say that we do enjoy a sense of freedom and have right to power in the Philippines. She explained to us that she heads a center for abused women in South India. She mentioned how if you're pregnant with a female fetus, your husband can force you to have her aborted. And how young girls are being wed to old men in exchange for money.

Going to Varanasi and witnessing the burning ceremonies proved to be too much for me too. Witnessing death on a daily basis was a lot for me to take in. I guess I was just used to a different way of dealing with death.

There are certain customs and history involved in these realities, but casting judgment especially as an outsider is really your choice. I learned to just be aware of these realities and acknowledge them.


Sarnath India

Faith is their wealth.

As I wrote before, poverty in India is everywhere. Some of the homeless and holy men in India have nothing, but they have everything because of their faith. One young Indian guy explained to us how “People living in the streets don’t show sorrow to others. They believe that their God will create happiness for them.” Some people may be quick to judge such philosophy. But for me, I admire their spirit. Their spirit and strength to survive, and still have hope.


These are just some of the very few important lessons and insights I got out from my travels in India. The importance of tolerance for anything that's different, a more open mind of the things that are new to us, the patience and humility that one should have in order to accept what is happening at the present. My travels to India proved to be a great learning experience. :)