“All travel is preparation for traveling in India.” The wise words of a veteran traveler who gave me advice as I was planning for this trip. I’ve dialed down the independence on this trip, since I’ve been traveling with my girlfriend, her mother and brother. There are more tours, nicer hotels, and fewer language barriers than at most points in my journey.
And I’m fine with it. Because every time you step outside a house or hotel you enter a kind of madness unlike any I’ve seen in the world. Simply crossing the street involves taking your life in your hands, let alone getting in a car. The current city I’m in, Hyderabad, appears to have built traffic lights but not plugged them in. Cars, auto-rickshaws, buses, trucks, taxis, motorcycles, push-rickshaws, pedestrians, beggars and yes, cows, battle for limited space, inching their way towards untold points. By the time you reach your destination, you’re invariably sweating, and it’s not because of the 90 degree heat.
Wandering India’s streets also reinforces the strange gender dynamic between men and women. Indian women are brilliantly dressed, classy and generally beautiful. Indian men are dirty creepsters. Maybe it’s the mustaches, or the dorky clothes. Ok no really it’s only one thing, the stares. Indian men stare at least 7 seconds longer than is culturally acceptable.
A day out here can bring highs and lows, the most beautiful buildings and palaces out of a movie set, constant negotiation with drivers and guides to avoid ripoffs, horrific poverty, cow shit, tasty spicy food and several near heart attack moments. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating it’s exhausting.
And I have two and a half more weeks of it. One by myself.
Shiva help me.