Wanting to traveling in India. Bit scared? Read my experiences, learn from my mistakes and do some research and get it booked!
I'm still regularly returning to #Incredible India. Read more below...
Visit 1: We travelled from North to South - dodged bombs, got robbed by monkeys, slept on overnight trains, ate amazing food, rode elephants, haggled with the best, gave offerings in many temples and decided to only give to very elderly women. We had an exhilarating and exhausting trip. We met many people and not once were we treated with anything but respect. I was referred to as 'Mamma' and was regularly blessed when I told them that 'I'd left the other four daughters at home!' Only once did we have anything like a negative experience: when my daughter left her sandals out on the overnight train and they were stolen... or removed for a more necessary cause, as we liked to view it.
Visit 2: With my twenty two year old daughter. A different experience entirely. We were constantly stared at. Too many men brushed up against us. There was an attempted robbery at Delhi train station, we were continuously peered at through the curtains on the train.
By the time we set off up to Dharamsala , Himachal Pradesh, my daughter no longer believed a word I'd said about India! Surely it would be less hassle in the home of the Dalai Lama? No, here we were completely taken in at a long established Tourist store. The friendly helpful owner - after a long chat, chai and purchases - invited us to dinner with his family. He was appalled at our experience so far and wanted to show us how hospitable Indians really are! There was no family, only an almost deserted club 'Exotica'. We made our excuses and were thankfully, safely returned to our hotel. Several times after this, during the rest of our trip, we were invited somewhere in similar circumstances. Some of those offers may have been entirely genuine but it put us off, better be safe than sorry became our new motto. It definitely cleared my 'rose tinted glasses'.
Visit 3: With my husband. This time in the South of India, Bangalore. What a difference a Man made! No brushing up, no stares, just mostly ignored in favour of the Man. We did make friends and were invited into many homes, including to Diwali celebrations. It was the first time I was able to talk freely with Indian women - enlightening. I hadn't really noticed on previous trips that almost everyone I came into contact with had been male. Auto drivers, taxi drivers, staff on trains, tourist attractions and in hotels were largely male. The elderly ladies didn't speak English. This trip I also visited Christel House School and met some hardworking, dedicated teachers working with the poorest children and families. We went to some very 'posh dos', meeting some mega rich people. From the very poorest slum children to rich business men I received respect and a fantastic welcome. Bangalore is a cosmopolitan city and an incredible place to visit.