As some of you probably know, (I might have banged on about it, just a bit), we have recently got back from nine weeks backpacking in India and Sri Lanka, with the kids. We squodged ourselves in rickshaws, bounced out of our seats at the back of buses, trundled for hours through the night on sleeper trains; we ate our way from Bangalore to Travandrum, realising around Mysore that the India diet wasn’t actually going to happen – the garlic nann was too fluffy, the butter chicken too tasty, as Joe would say (probably about minecraft, though) “It was epic”.
So, here are our un-photoshopped / bit blurry / not professional photos – but luckily for you, edited down collection of pictures (though there are still loads!). These are just our India photos – Sri Lanka will be a different post. Some are off my old film camera, some phone snaps and some off my ‘big’ camera. Make yourself comfy and enjoy!
People have asked how the kids handled it, and actually they all handled it really well, and in their own different ways. They pretty much took it in their stride. They soaked it all up, got quite into Hindu Myths, played games with people on trains. There were moments at the end of 13 hour train rides where one of them would cry and hate it, (if you have travelled in India you will know that this is pretty par for the course, most people have these India moments!). There were times where they weren’t up for their photo taken (again) by some random stranger who had taken a shine to the novelty blond children, and yes it was bloody hot! There was the smell of the train toilets that is so pungent it almost makes your eyes water – Liz would have loved those bits. Alongside the these bits there are the epic highs that India dishes out; the colours are brighter, the noises are louder, the Gods are watching your every move, the cows roam free, and India muddles along, in a cloud of saris, blue skies and more sandlewood insence than a teenage, hippy girl’s bedroom. The sheer enormity of the country and its culture mean that there is no point fighting it. All there is to do is let it go, bobble along, enjoy the shouts of “Chai! Chai! Nescafe! Chai!”, and have another samosa. India is mad enough to be really accepting of pretty much everything and everyone, there’s no Hard and Fast rules, more suggestions, which suits us pretty well.
The hardest thing to adjust to wasn’t actually India, but all being together, all the time, literally all the time, there was some niggling and shuffling about at the beginning, but I think it has actually made us all get on better together, be a bit more accommodating of each others annoying bits and generally be a bit nicer to each other!
We wandered round hustly bustly markets and hung out in more temples than you can shake a stick at, sat in road side food stops, tried lots of curries & dhals, played on the beach, played cards, read books, made friends, haggled, stayed over night on a houseboat and lots of sleeper trains, and generally soaked it up. The kids got to be almost o.k at driving rickshaws (which they loved), got blessed by elephants, bought loads of tika powder from the psychedelic market stalls – it was fab, just writing it all down makes me want pack up and do it all again!
India always feels like unfinished business to me, I know some people HATE it, and I can totally understand why, but I have got ‘the bug’, and though we have no flights booked, would hate to imagine life without ‘just one more visit’.
Phew! Told you it was a long one. Next up Sri Lanka!