Jul
05

Oh India I hate you… I hate you not!

I sat there holding my tears back; I didn’t want to cry… not yet, not on the train. Across from me was Val in a daze holding her bag, next to her was Dani with a face of desperation, next to me was Jess with a face of freshly shed tears and sheer exhaustion. I looked down and continued rubbing the cross that I have on my daypack and praying to my God to please let us survive this train ride. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, and I wanted to leave India. I was done with her. This was it; this was the straw that broke my back. Moments later I looked at Jess and told her “This is inhumane, no human on earth should have to travel like this. The people look at us, and laugh, because they don’t know better, they think this is normal. You know I’ be more ashamed of telling my father about this than telling him about the hand job I gave on a chicken bus?”

The 4 of us were cramped in a 2nd class train cabin like sardines for a few hours. Imagine a cabin for about 100 people filled with at least 200+ people. Imagine people climbing over each other to get in or out, people pushing you to get through. Imagine you are in your coffin still alive and can’t get out. That’s the situation we were in and we honestly couldn’t take it any longer. Instead of going 14+ hours up to our destination we got off at a random town 5 hours in.  We got off the train and had no clue where we were going to stay or what we were going to do. We were all frustrated… and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had shut down hours ago… I walked away from the girls as we were making plans. I started crying.  People looked at me I didn’t care… the tears were rolling. I couldn’t help it, I felt in more danger on that train ride then the time I was held at gunpoint in Costa Rica.

Getting on a train in India!

—What it looked like right after we got off that crazy train ride.—

I can go on about how much crazier the night got after we got off the train, but I won’t. I had mentioned that I would never write about that train ride, because it was one of the worst moments of this crazy adventure I am on around the world.  You see though it was after that moment I finally saw the beauty of India. I know what you are thinking huh… how? Well you see at that point I had already been in India over two months and honestly I hated it. I just was not enjoying it like I thought I would. The reason why I wasn’t enjoying it is because I just didn’t understand it. I know in a foreign country nothing is supposed to make sense. It’s not made for you to understand it’s made for the people who live there to understand. I just had never been a country where so many things didn’t make sense.

India

—A kid holding on to his cow after it almost rammed me.—

I didn’t understand why you would see a luxurious building and right next to it people sleeping on the street? I didn’t understand why Cows are just allowed to roam freely and even wrote about it here? I didn’t understand why just about everywhere you walked you would see trash? I didn’t understand why so many people lived on the street or under bridges? I didn’t understand why I would see people using the toilet in the street? I didn’t understand why I would see people showering near the railway tracks? I didn’t understand anything about the Ganges River and was basically repulsed by it? I didn’t understand why an Orange city would be advertised as Pink? I didn’t understand why they loved ripping foreigners off? I didn’t understand what their fascination with “AMERICA” (USA) was? I didn’t understand how the most hectic country I have ever visited is home to one of the calmest practices in the world… YOGA? I didn’t understand why people eat with their hands? I didn’t understand how they can have public toilets with no doors? I didn’t understand the Indian Railway system and why they would sell more tickets than seats? I didn’t understand how anyone could love this country? I didn’t understand many things and I can go on & on, but I’ll stop here.

India

—A group of children in a small desert village in awe of Val & I since they rarely see foreigners.—  

You see it was after that crazy train trip that I realized that India doesn’t give a fuck about what you feel, think or don’t understand.  India is one crazy bitch and she is who she is and either you adjust and enjoy the adventure or you are going to hate it. She doesn’t care about your feelings… she will tear you apart one minute and lift you up so high the next. She will make you see beauty in the most mundane things in life and at the same time make you see the horror of the reality that is the world we live in. She will feed you one second and make it a task to find food or water the next. She will make it easy to find shelter one day and difficult the next. She will make it easy to get to point A one day and make it a marathon to get to point B the next.

I’m a person who loves to question every thing and love to hear answers and well she didn’t give them to me and it wasn’t until I understood that, that I stopped hating her. It wasn’t until I realized that, that I realized why people love India so much. She is ruthless, she is intense and hides nothing from you. You see sometimes we travel to far and foreign destinations and try to make sense of things, but sometimes the beauty of things are that you can’t make sense of them at all.

India

—My house mother for 15 days while I volunteered in a desert town teaching English.—

It’s been over a month since I left India and to be honest I miss her. I look back and laugh at so many things (even the crazy train ride), that I will never understand and now understand that’s the beauty of her. Even though I had just celebrated my one year on the road when I arrived in India and thought I already saw the world differently… spending 3 months in India made me see the world even more different (hell I came back to Cairo and felt like it was one of the most calm, clean cities in the world). I wrote over 20 blog post about my 3 months there and this one is my final one (for now). When I left I thought I would never want to visit her again, however when I look at my photos I can’t help, but wanna go back. I only scratched the surface of what she has to offer. I don’t know how to put into words exactly how I feel about India, but know she will always have a place in my heart. I don’t know how she did that, but she worked her way in and because I know I will never love her I will tell her this:

Oh India I hate you… I hate you not!

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Comments

  1. I really appreciated reading about India through your eyes. You never hesitated to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    I’ve mentioned so many times how I desperately want to go, and I know it will test me at every step of the way.

    When I go one day, if you think you want to visit again….let me know!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Heather, glad I shared it all and gave you insight on to how it might be when you go. I hope you do go one day… it seriously is an amazing country with a lot to do and see, but like you said it will TEST you every step of the way. I’ll let ya know if when you go I wanna go again… I think it may be to soon…lol!!!

    • The trains have a 1st class section as well which is very comfortable and usually fully air conditioned and even includes food. Some of them are also A/C sleepers which are also very good. These require advanced reservations though. Now you can reserve online, which is what I did on my trip to India a year ago.

      The section of the train you traveled in is the general compartment and yes, that is a total nightmare. It is what the general population can afford. Most non-backpacking tourists to India travel 1st class though and never get to see the way the regular people travel which is what you experienced.

      But I just wanted to point out that India can be as luxurious as you want it to be, actually even so than the west. It’s all about how much money you are willing to spend.

      • Jaime Davila says:

        Oh yes Kevin agree & know India can be very luxurious… but that wouldn’t be as much fun. Part of what makes my memories of India so amazing are because of how crazy it was to travel India at it’s rawest and just like any local their who is not rich!

  2. This is the kind of travel blogging I like: raw and sincere! There are too many “beautiful” posts out there, but not so many that come from the gut!

    “You see it was after that crazy train trip that I realized that India doesn’t give a fuck about what you feel, think or don’t understand.  India is one crazy bitch and she is who she is and either you adjust and enjoy the adventure or you are going to hate it” – there is such a ridiculous number of people in India… People almost become numbers sometimes, not individuals.

    Traveling around India can get quite intense indeed.. But as you say, it’s when you look back to those moments that might not even been your favorite, that you grasp the “beauty” or interest of what you saw or went through. Sometimes when you go through a situation you dislike you might be thinking “fuck it” on the spot but later realize “yeah, I made it!”.. And isn’t it what traveling is all about? It’s not just about seeing pretty things and meeting people who remotetly think alike.. It’s about getting out of your confort zone and learning a lot, and YOU did just that!
    Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted..A Chiloean Cottage

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Zara so much for the kind comment. If you are looking for raw and sincere you have found the right blog. I post what I think… the good the bad… the ugly… the pretty… and all 100% honest.

      I know what you mean it about people becoming numbers because of the amount of people that live in India. I forgot to mention and I was… that part of the reason I think it’s so crazy is because it literally is 1 BILLION PEOPLE trying to survive. Of course it’s going to be crazy… and yup it’s those crazy moments that you look back on and realize oh wait that is India and until you understand that you can’t enjoy them. We must get oout of our comfort zone to really experience a place… that’s when you know you are in a whole different culture.

  3. I’m glad you finally wrote about that horrible train ride, get it out of your system. I still don’t think I could handle going to India, but I so enjoyed reading about it on your site and Val’s. I’m glad you were able to appreciate the country for what it is so you don’t have to look back at it and just see a rough 3 months.
    Ali recently posted..Heidelberg – Sleeping With the Locals

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Ali, I am glad I did too. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my final post on India than to start it with that crazy experience. I am glad I can now laugh about it, but at the time… lord oh lord. I have to be honest with you I think if you did it on a tour you would love it… I am just saying that, because I know you and know that India will repulse you cus of just how dirty it is. I’m glad I am able to appreciate my time in India and don’t feel like it was a waste… honestly it was an amazing 3 months.

    • In Indian railways there are 3 classes-ac,sleeper,general.sleeper and general class receive subsidy so that poor people can afford it.when you come to india reserve a ticket in irctc.co.in for comfortable vacation in india.The overcrowding happens in very busy routes.If you are uncomfortable in train contact ticket collecter who will be in the train

      • Jaime Davila says:

        Thanks Sai, I was aware of that just always trying to save money jaja.

        • Yes, I agree…I wouldn’t go in the last classes of trains :/ We took bus trips to Goa and the Aurungabad from Mumbai…it was clean safe and comfy 🙂 India is a place you can’t really go totally native if you know what I mean 🙂

          • Jaime Davila says:

            Jajajaja but that is all part of the fun… and the nightmares…lol!!! Oh India… I miss it so much!

  4. Congratulations, what a great way of describing India. I think many feel that way, but we don’t understand why..:)
    We traveled in India back in 1998 and always wanted to go back. But with two small children we didn’t want to..not yet.
    But this year we will. Not for long, because the experience might be too intense for our kids. We will stay for 10 days after which we will continue our trip to Bangkok (that quiet, clean and easy city) and Thailand for 4 weeks.
    We bought our train tickets already…hope we can sit 🙂
    Emiel
    Emiel recently posted..Sweet discoveries: Münster and the Mövenpick hotel

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Emiel, I couldn’t have described it any other way. It’s the truth and nothing but the truth and I think people who have been can agree on it. Gosh I can’t imagine traveling in India in 1998… I am sure it’s changed so much since then. Just the thought of it fascinates me. Glad you are going back even if it’s not for long. I understand how hard it must be to travel with children and then in India. Good luck on that trip… sounds like it’s going to be quite the adventure.

  5. I’ve been to India 7 times and spent about a year there in all. I love it and hate it. Every time I leave, I am literally fighting to get out and have had plane flights canceled, injuries, problems with border patrol, etc. But, once I am gone, I start missing it after a few weeks and am back there before I know it.
    Off The Path Travel recently posted..The Hindu Trimurti: Gods Of India

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Wow you have been to India a lot. I can imagine why… it has os much to do & see you can never possibly see it all. I believe everything about the problems… crazy the amount of problems we had just trying to buy train tickets. The strange though is like you said once you are gone you miss it.

      • Yup. Every time we have the chance to travel, end up back in India instead. Just got a flight there for the end of October again! Gotta hit up the Char Dham pilgrimage and Diwali in Haridwar!

        • Jaime Davila says:

          If you had told me this before I left India I would have laughed you… hell even I before leaving said “Oh I doubt I’ll ever come back.” Well that strange power India has Alex that well you know about now is strange and makes me wanna go back more & more. It’s just when you are there it’s killer and crazy but once you leave you miss that rush… it’s like a fucking drug… you know it’s bad, but you love it…lol!!!

  6. great post.. i felt every word you said.. i would like to visit India too.. i’m scared even now about what i’m hearing and reading a lot of it.. but i’m still gonna try.. there’s always a good side of everything right.. 😛
    rdsean recently posted..Bangkok: The City of Angels

  7. One more friend saying that India is up and down. It seems rare to find a level day in that enormous country. I think that the fact that so many people I know are hit or miss with India is a draw for me. That country intrigues me–and the trains in particular. But then, I have an unnatural capacity for adrenaline.
    Chael – Hitchhiking Travel Narrative recently posted..The Search for Johnny Tito

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Chael, ahh yes a good way to put it… it is a rare to find a level day in that enormous country. You should give it a go if you get the chance. It is just amazing how it really test you in every way possible. It will make you stronger that is for sure.

  8. Jaime, this is a really moving post. It gives such excellent insight into your thoughts and feelings about India. I’ve honestly never been much interested in visiting India – can’t really put my finger on why. I have to say your posts haven’t made me want to visit the country, but I really appreciate them for their honesty 🙂

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Sabina. Yeah I think India is a country you either have a desire to visit or don’t. I’d always been intrigued, but had no clue this is how my 3 months would have been spent. It really is an amazing country and well I am honest, so I shared it all.

  9. This is a great post Jaime and sums up so much of what I hear about India, that she’s a Marmite Country – you either love her or you hate her (or both) – there’s no middle ground or mild opinion about her. I can’t wait to go there and I’m filled with a mixture of sheer excitement and pure dread. Your post here has reinforced both feelings.

    You’re right about how other countries aren’t made for us to understand them, either. They’re made for the people who live there. Even now, after three years, Korea still has me scratching my head every now and again, thinking “what the eff?”, but you just have to learn things go and accept them.
    Waegook Tom recently posted..The Mission Burrito

    • Jaime Davila says:

      WT I think I fit in the BOTH category, but I don’t love her… it’s so fucking strange. I’ve just never felt like this about a country… it’s so strange. I can only imagine how Korea boggles your mind. I’ve been in Egypt for a few months now and still don’t get it either. It’s not for us to understand… we come we see we enjoy or not and move on.

  10. Jaime,
    you definitely should join “Capture the colour” contest.
    http://www.shorttraveltips.com/capture-the-colour/
    As I am sure you have enough colorful pictures from India to enter it.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Ahh thanks Vi, looking at it now. I just might. I have a few good shots from around the world.

  11. I am repelled and attracted by India. It really seems like a hassle but I don’t think I will be able to resist. Sometimes the best things come from those yen/yang type places.
    Jonathan Look, Jr. recently posted..Swimming with Whale Sharks

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Jonathan I can understand why, but yes the best really does come out of the yen/yang places. India is definitely one of those, but really just makes you grow & see the world differently.

  12. Interesting point of view. I’ve always heard really far out opinions on India. People I talk to seem to either love it or hate it. But the mere fact that it made Cairo (which I find to be wonderfully nuts) seem nuts to you speaks volumes!
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..What the Heck is a “Census-Designated Place?”

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I’m surprised you’ve never been there Aaron. Yeah I’ve always heard the same either you will love her or hate her. I think you meant to say I find Cairo to be calm and clean…lol, but yeah seriously compared to any major city in India… Cairo is heaven.

      • India is a developing country &
        When we greet one another,
        we foId our hands in namastey…

        because we beIieve…

        that God resides in the heart
        of every human being.

        We come from a nation where we aIIow
        a Iady of CathoIic origin…

        to step aside for a Sikh
        to be sworn in as Prime Minister…

        to a MusIim President to govern
        a nation of over 80 percent Hindus.

        It may aIso interest you
        to know that…

        many of the origins to your words
        come from Sanskrit.

        For exampIe,
        maatr becomes mother…

        bhratr becomes brother,
        giamiti becomes geometry

        trikonniti becomes trigonometry.

        We have 5600 newspapers…

        magazines in over twenty-one
        different Languages…

        with a combined readership
        of over 120 miIIion.

        We have reached the moon and back,
        but yet…

        you people still feel that we’ve onIy
        reached as far as the Indian rope trick

        We are the third largest pool in the word
        of doctors, engineers

        we have the third Iargest army
        in the worId.

        And even then, I foId my hands
        in humiIity before you…

        because we don’t beIieve we are
        above or beneath any individuaI.

        And…

        namastey.

  13. Yes, India is not perfect but then no country is.
    I love my country, I love my India 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun: Japan

    • Jaime Davila says:

      That is so true… no country is perfect. I like that. Glad you love your country… it’s an amazing one to love.

  14. Hi Jamie,

    Such a great read. My wife and I leaving for a year long trip to India SE Asia and Australia in October. We are flying into India and planning on spending 2-4 months there. I have always been slightly intimidated about traveling there, but cannot wait for the experience. It’s great that you shared your honesty, as too many don’t. Glad you have the ability to look back from those hard experiences and learn/ grow from them. Thanks again,

    Tom

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you very much Tom, I am glad you enjoy my honesty and are able to get a glimpse at just how crazy India may be. It’s good to hear you will be doing a RTW trip soon with your wife. Our paths may cross as I should be in SEA soon & for a while. In the mean time though let me know if you have any questions or need any help with the planning of your RTW trip. Always happy to help.

  15. Love the way its written… it demonstrates the ups & downs of your trip here. You’re right, we too as Indians are sometimes amazed at how we actually function in the madness that surrounds, but strangely things get done 🙂 And you end up loving it just the way it is.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks you very much P/D my time in India was really a roller coaster of emotions. I’m glad to hear though that even yall are amazing at how it actually functions. Your right though strangly things get done and you do end up loving it how it is crazy and all.

  16. Oh Jaime… Thanks for this! Well, I’ve only been 24 hours here in Delhi and I’m already questioning things, cursing others, and getting frustrated with some. India has no filter between what she is and what she wants you to see. I imagine the rest of my time will have similar reactions to the ones you have, so for now, I kinda know what to expect, but at the same time, I know I will still be shocked. ufff….
    Norbert recently posted..Prague’s Orloj: When Legends And Astronomy Create A Famous Clock

    • Jaime Davila says:

      jaja your welcome, I know how it is Norbert and just wish you the best. It’s like you are going to war…lol. Its a crazy country but everything just works with out any damn filters.

  17. Aman(that's actually an indian name) says:

    Woah! Finally the comments ended, firstly, great post.man!
    Reading about india was like i was reading about the house i lived in for 18 years, yeah! It is a bitch, and sucks, but i can’t help but appreciate the beauty it has within, i have travelled all around it with my friends, parents and alone, the breathtaking mountains to the long endless forests, to the most exotic beaches to the fartest point on top POK border and bottom the kanyakumari to far left of india, and yeah also had an equal chance to travel in the 2nd class compartment that i hate! Sometimes, because of the people and sometimes cause of the mess in there, ah! But it taught me that i can survive the worst, i ever imagined! :p though, i am pretty sure you’re still missin a lot in the travel you had in india, you gonna hate it, but believe me, its worth it! And yeah, one thing helps in india what i learnt in the boy scouts, ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
    Have a great life!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Aman so much, glad this post was able to take you back and remind of your time living in India. What you say is the truth… it’s so crazy and you will hate it, but at the end the beauty of it all just makes it all worth it. After you travel through India though you feel like you can travel the rest of the world, it’s just sometimes the worst and does make you feel amazing once you get to where you are going. Oh India… the more I am away from her the more I wanna go back!

      • Sujesh Mooliyil says:

        Jaime,
        I love this post. The heading of this post is certainly apt. I’ve been living away for the last 7 years and reading this post made me nostalgic. Oh well, I do go to India every year. I was born and raised in a small village off the Malabar coast of Arabian sea. Well, pretty much close to the place where Vasco Da Gama landed first. Have you been to Kerala? or anywhere in the south part of India?
        Hope you travel to India soon and have only one opinion- just pure love and affection for the bitchy India.
        Safe travels x

        • Jaime Davila says:

          Sujesh, I knew you would. Yes… spent about a month in the South Side of India and liked it more than the North that is for sure. I loved the Backwaters of Kerala and wrote about it as well. I have written a lot about India. I hope my travels bring me to India again. No lie I do miss it.

  18. Love this blog! Even though India is dirty and there’s a lot of cows roaming around. I love it! 🙂 and people around you love you and it just makes you feel special and happy 🙂 I’ve been to India since I was 3 and now at 17 I want to live there despite the dust and dirty toilets!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Katie… yes India is so dirty, but so damn interesting. Even though when I left I said I would never be going back… I plan on going again very soon.

  19. I now understand more than ever why people says to me: “DONT go to India as your first country!!”… i guess what they really mean is that i need to develop some tick skin before being ready to go… but i never met someone who actually hate India. Everybody said it was dirty, sometimes dangerous, but beautiful… I just saw pictures and video of course. What i love about them are the colours. They have fantastic colours.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      And yes you read my CRAZY train journey in India… I cried…lol. Yes it’s a country that can break you down in a heart beat and lift you up so high it’s insane. I loved it & hated it… now that I have been away for so long I really can’t wait to go back & plan on getting the 5 year visa when I go home…lol. Just to be prepared since I will be living so close to India.

  20. India, quite honestly is a country which is dirty thanks to its people who do not care about their surroundings or give a Fuck about others. You can personify India as a “Bitch who doesn’t care about others…” but that’s just the people by the way, who treat themselves and others like shit. I think Indians are probably the filthiest kind of people on earth. The ‘5 yearly ‘Kumbh Mela” is an orgy of people having their shits in the open for ten days or so and then taking the “Holy Dip” in that “sacred” water to cleanse their past sins!! I think they probably get punished for their sins after having a dip in that polluted shit filled water. Plus they also have their lunch, dinner and breakfast in the same place!

    I just spoke my mind!

  21. Jamie…. India is on our short list of travel destinations… but I think I might see a few other places before I try India on… My friend is going next week to volunteer and he seems so excited and I am excited for him… He might write a guest blog post on my site… Your description of the train ride made me very uncomfortable… but the read was great… Your writing is very good… Something you could make a living at.. George
    George recently posted..About Ecuador About Opportunity

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you George for the compliment on my writing. India is really an amazing country and even now I think of it so much. I hated it while I was there, but now I know it was just so authentic and it’s so India. Really nothing else like it exist on Earth. It truly is one of a kind that I hope one day you are ready to visit.

  22. Well Jaime,

    I am from India & whatever the experiences you have shared with the India is all correct.After reading the post i feel hilarious and little upset too but what to do..? don’t have any option…have to deal with it.

    Next time you come to India let me know..we’ll have fun together…

    – Shrikant Kale

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Glad I got it right SK. India was the hardest country I traveled in and now that I’m gone I miss it so much. It really is an amazing country. If I go back I’ll be sure to let you know.

  23. nikita says:

    I agree with a lot of description about India in your post but i’m curious about a few things.
    First, why did you choose a village to stay? I notice that foreigners often like to see the “real” India which they believe is in the villages.
    But India is not just about villages.
    And you could have easily stayed in hotels or even guest houses. Well, yeah that’s India too!
    Then, you traveled 2nd class, which is the lowest category of train travel in India. Nobody travels in 2nd class but only the poorest. I guess that’s why the harrowing experience. It just seems to me that you set about to see how the poor live. Well, the poorest even in the developed country live in worse conditions than in India.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Nikita, thank you for your comment. I think you got it all wrong, because even though yes I did the things you mention in your comment that is not all I did. I spent 3 months in India I spent the majority of time visiting major cities and tourist destinations. I stayed in nice hotels and a lot of guesthouses too. I did not seek the poor. I would never visit a country to seek out the poor. Sadly in India the poor is in your face no matter where you go. Unless you are in a very rich part of town you are going to see the poor. I wrote this because it was my experience in India. Yes I hated it and a lot sometimes, but now that time has passed I realize it was so authentic. India is who she is because she doesn’t hide anything from anyone. Even as a tourist you are going to see it all & trust me I saw it all.

  24. when I look at my photos I can’t help, but wanna go back. I only scratched the surface of what she has to offer. I don’t know how to put into words exactly how I feel about India, but know she will always have a place in my heart. I don’t know how she did that, but she worked her way in and because I know I will never love her I will tell her this: THIS IS MY SENTIMENT ALSO! 100% Is n’t it the same way in many wonderful places in this world that are fun to visit?
    jim tv recently posted..Madrid, Spain: Exploring the tapas market!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I’m the same way Jim. I look at the photos and am in awe at how raw and beautiful India really is. I know I spent 3 months there, but I too only scratched the surface. She is a crazy one, but one I love dearly and hope one day I can see more of.

  25. Aww sounds like you were very naive before you visited India but credit to you. As a first generation Indian in the UK I was always surprised at the lack of insight or understanding my friends had of India. A few went thinking it would all be wise gurus and mango cocktails at sunset in keeping with the times of the raj and they were just as shocked and disillusioned as yourself. They went out there to ‘find themselves’ and realised that ‘finding oneself’ was a very selfish concept to Indians who were struggling to find food. I was always happy though that although harrowing, my friends had their eyes opened and stopped treating countries like India as purely backpacker destinations.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Well Emily, it wasn’t that I was “naive” it was that India is an intense country to visit for anyone. I’m not going to lie it’s one of the countries that I know I will have to go back in my lifetime and spend more time there and find India… not myself.

  26. India is definitely a place you grow to love AFTER you’ve left!!

    There were sooo many times when we wished we were somewhere else – We spent too long wishing we were elsewhere when times got hard which I regret now.

    We were stupid enough to think we could see the whole country in 5 months – When we realised that was totally ridiculous we came back for ANOTHER 5 months after only planning to come back for one more month!

    India just does that to you. It’s one of the places I think of the most now we’re in a more ‘normal’ land – But I wouldn’t exchange my memories and experiences of India for anything.

    Boom Bolenath!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I agree with everything you said. I especially agree on the part of wanting to be else where when you are somewhere amazing already. It’s just sad you really don’t see it’s beauty until you leave. I am excited to go back one day because I know I will come back with an open mind and embrace it all.

  27. As an Indian I want to run away from my home country as soon as possible because it is becoming very difficult for me to bear with the pollution, population… And it is hot as hell during the summer like 45C .I mean where ever you see you find people. Especially in metro cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Madras. I never travelled to north India but I might travel in the future on piligrimage. That too I want to wind it up ASAP.Frankly speaking I will never visit Taj Mahal because I remember the tyranny of the Mughals on Indians. Iam sorry to say this but the fact is the history was changed a lot by our cynical political leaders . I want to visit New York, Hollywood,Niagara instead. I want to apologize on behalf of my country for facing problems. I mean it has been only 66 years since we got independence. This has nothing to do with the British actually india was far better off during the British rule. I got mixed feelings about my country why wouldn’t you?! As a whole, Indian culture, values and their traditions is the pinnacle of its heritage.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Sys I can only imagine how you feel living there. India is just a huge vast country with so much diversity it’s impossible to see it all and even understand it. It’s a baby nation with thousands of years of history and like many others just now developing into hopefully something better for it’s people.

  28. i am indian and there is no doubt that our cities are the dirtiest on the entire planet.That is only because of bad and ineffective government departments and lazy ,sloppy,corrupt government workers. At the same time,India has some of the most beautiful and pristine natural wonders of the world and we have one of the most efficient and hard working private sector because of which India runs.Unless our government department staff do not become polite,courteous,clean,hygienic and workalholic,we can alas never come out of the huge mess that we are in.The only way India can become better is by compulsorily inducting all Indians at the age of 18 to military service for atleast 2 to 5 years and teaching them values like loving your country,not spitting,not throwing garbage and basic civic sense.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Roby, I agree with EVERYTHING you mentioned in your comment. I could not have said it better, it is what I witnessed during my 3 months in India. I honestly hope I am able to go back one day, because I want to go back with a bit more of an open mind. I miss India, she’s crazy!!!

  29. Avik Biswas says:

    i just read your blog it is good, i am from india (kolkata, barasat) so i know what are you talking about. In a word india=hell. probably i hate my country more than you do, since i live in this horrible country. But sometime i love this country more than anything.

    the train journey you had is nothing compare to what i have been going through.
    “I miss India, she’s crazy” i dont know how can you miss india, well i guess thats because you dont live here. If you really miss india i can share some of my home town photo with you(even more horrible train journey photo). contact me on facebook by email.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Avik, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post. I know it’s so different because I don’t live there. Yes please send me some photos if you can. I’d love to see it from your point of view.

  30. Great blog write-up.

    India is a land of contrasts and contradictions. It is filthy and grimy but it is as beautiful and wonderful, there is social injustice but there are also untold kindnesses and bonds of community and individual ingenuity . An entrenched form of social stratification, i.e. the caste system, took birth in India but then so did all of the Eastern Dharmic religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. As the adage goes: “Whatever you say about India is true. And its opposite”.

    India, like China, is one of the most ancient civilizations that has its own rules, orders and ticks-which will confound and astound western eyes- many of these have been thrown out of whack, while others have morphed and adapted with changing surroundings since the advent and spread of the western industrialization in the past two centuries, as well as due to colonization. Like China, it will find its own unique way of finding its path to development and progress (China is as messy and confounding, but the key difference is since it is an authoritarian State it sweeps all its dirt, unlike India, under the veneer of hyper-modern cities). India is much more ungovernable and organic. In some ways India is still stuck in the middle ages while in other respects it is-and has been even in ancient times-at the front lines of science and development.

    Once you realise that you can’t change India, but it will doubtless change you, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. Even while you are there not just afterward.

    -An Indian, born and bred.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Sid, thank you so much for your comment. It is always interesting to hear the point of view of someone is from there and lives there. I like what you say about India finding it’s on unique way to cahnge and adapt to the changes all around it. It’s going to be interesting to see how it continues to evolve that is for sure. India does have the power to change people in a way no other country can. It’s just so unique and ruthless and just down right beautiful.

  31. sir,
    you were too critical about Indian trains and people ,but think about educated middle class Indians who still travel in general compartment(your compartment is reserved one )if you think it wont happen,sorry, i have to disappoint you.I am from upper middle class family in Kerala,India and i like to travel in general compartment(in which people travel with cheaper and unreserved ticket ).i meet new people and also enjoy sleepless night(my journey from college to native place is 9 hours of duration ) with my friends.Its not that i cant afford a reserved ticket but i enjoy it.if i want i could book an air ticket to my home town and could reach in 1 hour maybe,but i never did it.Now am out of my college working in International company, i really miss those days.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Arun, I wasn’t being critical I was sharing my experience and my feelings. I understand everything you mentioned and it’s things I do think of. India is just a tough country to travel in and that’s not a bad thing. Like I mentioned there countries aren’t built for tourist to understand. They are built for the people who live there to understand. Now that time has passed I appreciate my time in India so much more and miss it tons.

  32. but i still agree that India needs to change and i would suggest you to come again because we believe in ADI TI DHEVO BHAVA (GUESTS ARE TO BE CONSIDERED AS GODS)

  33. All you need to understand is that in a Poor and Over populated country; many people are trying to survive. India was invaded over centuries and all its wealth looted. Needless to mention who looted em.

    Its not like they dont know better; but they have to carry on with their lives and put a smile on. Because those who don’t, perish.

    its only now, with re-surging middle class and development that things are improving. But it will take a while. But all said and done; I love India. Because no matter how ugly ones mom may seem to others; your mother is your mother. .. and its up to the new generation to change things over time.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Arjun, I see that it that way now that I have step away and been away from it. I miss India so much it’s crazy.

    • an older lady was begging me for money in colaba causeway in mumbai. i told her, if you need money, go ask your local politician for a job. otherwise burn his house down but don’t come begging me. you live in a democracy and should fight for your position in society. my point was, the people there either expect handouts or they expect everything to be OK (or is already OK)…but it isn’t. the tremendous masses are uneducated even in large cities. on top of that, the religion of hinduism ensures that the caste system continues to keep society as it is instead of allowing merit and progress to continue. it’s also another reason why filth is tolerated – hindus pray to rats, and cows can roam freely because they are gods. all of this in the year 2014, not 1500 when we had no scientific methods. for this reason, india will continue to stay behind. it has very little to do with the british taking over and the poor. india is sick from within. if it wasn’t for the brits, the indians would not be speaking english and there would be no middle class to begin with, nor would there be a railway system or those hundred year old universities i see around mumbai kolkata and delhi. if you want to blame the brits, accept the tremendous positives they left behind too.

      • India was ahead of UK before colonialism. India’s gdp was the highest before the advent of brits.
        You should read how the British stole Indian inventions and committed mass famines.

  34. Hi Jaime

    I am from India and I find your blog most beautiful and and perfectly expressing the feelings related to India. And certainly I now understand why people miss this country when they are abroad. Though I also love this country and I don’t want to go anywhere leaving this country. Certainly I like crowd, natural setups, not very artificial beauties.
    Most of the beautiful views of India is already expressed here, but I also wanted to say something about India. It is absolutely a country which forces somebody to make a balance between yin and yang and most of the people end up in one side of India and it forces devilishness into them. But those who find balance between these offered yin and yangs can understand a lot about life and human and India has great potential to make a person saint and extremely knowledgeable even without academic achievement, by its very own tests and difficult to solve problems. I think those who find balance in this situation are automatically get knowledge of the real world and real nature of human.

    Okay what I wanted to say is that I find many great words and views expressed in this article of yours and also the comment. I am a Youtuber, and I want to use these words and views in my youtube videos, most probably as it is, what is in this blog because I cannot make it more perfect than this. I like to share your and other’s views in my Youtube videos, if you like to permit me for this.

    Thank you
    omisites.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Omisites, I am so happy you enjoyed this post I wrote about India. India is an amazing country that is just so hard to love. It does make you see every aspect of life and magnifies it for you to see and holds nothing back. I would be so happy if you read this and turned it into a video. If you do would you please share the link with me when you have published it? I’d love to share it with my readers.

      • Yes, I will surely share the link, when I will upload. But let me say, I am very slow in making and deciding how to make video, and it certainly will be a difficult one. So you probably have to wait from quite a long time. I will try to give it preference.

        Thanks for reply, and you are very good writer.

  35. Kevin Wild says:

    I guess its not all of india I hate, just the corruption, the attitude towards women, the black marketing, the poverty, the noise, the pollution, Bollywood, the streets littered with rubbish, the choking smog from a billion vehicles, the lack of open space, the water, the roads, the dust, the rapes, the trains, people defecating in the streets, a new language every 10 meters, etc, etc

  36. Christopher says:

    India still has a grasp on me even though it has been over 30 years since I backpacked thru her in the early 1980’s…before the days of computers, cell phones, McDonalds… Spent 18 months wandering thru that vast and amazing country, living in villages in the South, swimming in the Ganges to living in the slums in Calcutta. It never leaves you…my experiences are still as crystal clear now as they were then. Amazing memories when I read all of my Journals from my travels there.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      OMG Christopher your comment just transported me to a time I can’t even imagine how it was to travel through India. If I thought today was tough can’t even imagine 30 years ago and wow 18 months there. Just amazing.

  37. Globetrotter says:

    I will give u a little history lesson on India because you desperately need it.

    India in the 17th century was the richest country in the world…and the Nizam of Hyderabad was the richest man in the world up until the 1970s….and historically he is still the richest person to live if you adjust his wealth at that time with todays inflation. Read this – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/exclusive-the-last-nizam-of-hyderabad-was-so-rich-302814

    In the 17th century india was ruled by a 1000 or so royal families along with the British…before the British came along all royal families in India were at war with each other…the British came and unified India as well as gave armed protection to the Indian royals in return for their loyalty to help British do business in India. At that time India was known as the golden sparrow of the British crown..its single country where the largest revenues came from….the industrial revolution in England was funded from the lootings they did in India….yes the British gave India a lot but they took away a lot more….the British reduced India from the wealthiest country in the 17th century to one of the poorest when they left in 1945….and since then India has done remarkably well to come back to its wealthy past status. Poverty in india looks disgusting but fact is poor are much more happier than middle class americans or europeans….life is not all about materialism and comforts…poor indians may live in filthy conditions but their homes are clean…go inside one and see it next time.

    In the 17th century there were no poor people in India….the royal families ruling India looked after their subjects very well….like guardians and parents look after their children….but the British came and used their divide and rule politics to create a mess out of India – their sole aim was to exploit india and when the British went bankrupt in world war two they could no longer afford to keep india anymore and left…..leaving India a destroyed poor country. But now slowly india is getting rich again…and the wealth is getting to the masses as well…what u see in india is not always the truth….u will see a lot of beggars but u wud never believe me if i told u that many beggars in india are millionaires….so are many holy men and saints…..and a lot of other weird strange looking people…..india is a country of contrasts and contradictions….i personally dont like what it has become today but I certainly prefer India to the US and UK and many other countries.

  38. i was in india for 45 days and just returned on 23 jan 2013 back to NYC. everything you said in your post resonates with how i felt. i would not return personally because there are other countries i can travel to and not have to deal with the tremendous negatives of india vs. the minor positives. yes the people are good but once they see you are a foreigner, the bait and switch scams begin. you have to constantly be on the lookout for being tricked. the police are of no help either as they want bribes. the beggars are also overwhelming. every single time a beggar child (or adult) would come up to me, i would ask that person why he or she is not working by selling a product or a service. i did not give one rupee to a beggar. if you don’t know already, beggars are also controlled to a large part by organized crime. i can go on with what’s wrong with the country but instead of doing that, i’d rather just not return to the country. it certainly was a real bad nightmare. not as bad as an islamic dictatorship (dubai was 10 times worse as having a girlfriend will land you in prison – absolutely crazy), but then again, as an american, i can visit so many better places. the world is my oyster thanks to that american passport.

    the fact is, indians are dirty, the land is filth, and they are OK with that. i don’t know how you can say i love my india when you see all of this and refuse to do something about it. somehow bollywood music is more important than setting up a system to reduce poverty, enroll kids into schooling, and instruct planned parenthood. every person i meet in america who is originally from a third world country refuses to go back for this precise reason. i would assume it is a land of promise with people who have talent but sitting back and accepting it as it is is idiocy. why would you say you love something that sucks? fix it and that is what i told the people there. for them though, my type of thinking (a revolution or a complete disruption of societal values) is completely foreign.

  39. Hi Jaime,

    Nice blog.

    To understand India, one crucial word in your vocabulary should be ‘jugaad’.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jugaad

    Living in lack of resources is not an end of life. It is the birth of innovation to solve your problems.
    http://www.quora.com/India/What-are-the-best-examples-of-Indias-Jugaad-used-to-solve-everyday-problems

    Due to rampant corruption and chaos, Indian thinking is characterized by a distrust of rules and authority, hence they are more hardworking, opportunistic and creative. They can’t afford to be lazy or carefree as they don’t have a government that will provide them healthcare or social security. In India, you have to make it on your own. That is why it is not unlikely to see many Indians fed up with India and working in top jobs and CEO positions in so many other countries.

    Why they rip the whites off? Because they simply can. Opportunistism.
    Why are they fascinated by white skin? Post-colonialism or Colonial hangover. White is thought superior.
    Why America? MacDonalds, Facebook, Hollywood, etc.
    Why thrash, public defecation, broken toilets? Poverty
    Why Railway sells more tickets? Bcoz there are more people than trains can carry.
    Why hectic place has Yoga? It had Yoga, Ayurveda, Kamasutra and a lot of other lost sciences. The most advanced ancient civilization now in ruins due to several thousand years plunder by foreigners.

    Having said that, someone really needs to make some effort to clean the heaps of garbage out from the streets, political system, and public mentality of India. (Maybe I need to 😛 )

    Have a good one!

    Fellow Indian,
    Shashwat Gandhi

  40. Hi jamie 🙂 I am very impressed with your article s being an Indian person living in a foreign country, having visited India i feel exactly the same about it. It was only on my second visit did i really begin to appreciate the beauty of a country my ancestors once hailed from.

    I live in south africa an am currently writing an oral about the similarities between SA and india. My main focus being just like how foreigners are ignorant about the beauty of SA and believe stupid things like animals roam around, people are also ignorant about the beauty of India.

    Can I please credit your work ? 🙂
    thanks xoxo

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Aartii, I am glad you found this post interesting and that you liked it. You are more than welcome to use this in what you are working on and credit it me. If you have any other questions please let me know!

  41. Hi i am sorry for your inconvenience in india but if you were looking for a luxurious trip which backpacking is definately not , then you should quit complaining .I Don’t understand why foreigners come down with god knows what ideas rammed into their brains and try to fit the whole country within their narrow margins . Seriously darling youshouldhavegot the fuckout of thecounrty after the train ride and btw why didnt you mention about the sweet smelling indian toilets , i am sure it would delight your readers .

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Anu, thanks for commenting. I didn’t write this post to complain about my experience in India. I wrote this article to share my experience with my readers & what is was like for me. It’s not that we have narrow minds, it’s that it’s so different from anything we may have experienced before that we do not know how to comprehend it. Anyway I don’t need to justify my experience to anyone. Sadly it was what it was and I wouldn’t change a word of this post. As for the toilets… I think I shared that already when I wrote about my worst toilet experience in my life.

  42. this is exactly how i felt when i was india 6 months ago. the funny thing is, most of the travelers i met in india kind of felt the same thing — love and hate india.

    when i was in delhi, i tried to book my train tickets for my entire trip in india. for countless times, i asked rickshaw drivers to take me to the nearest reservation office, only to be taken to a rip off travel agency.

    in jaipur, the rickshaw drivers took me to carpet shops, jewelry shops, marble shops and silk shops before i was taken to my intended destination.

    in agra, i was enjoying my potatoes with curry in a nice restaurant when a guy just pulled down his pants and shit right across the window where i was seated. i never looked at curry the same way ever again.

    but at the end of trip, i realized how fortunate i am in so many ways. i dont have to rip people off to earn money. i have the means to buy a deodorant, soap and shampoo. we have doors in our toilets! my trip in india has humbled me and taught me that i am doing fine in this world.

    just like you, i hope i can visit india again in the future.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yes LLoyd… it’s such a love hate relationship with India and think that’s just how it is. Everything you mentioned I dealt with and is just part of a trip to India… you just deal with it and in the end is when you have the AH HA moment… of fuck I am very fortunate.

  43. Wow, so many different opinions about my country!!!

    I must say, its kinda funny because for the 22 years I have lived in India, I thought all of it was the norm one had to follow….

    Anyway, nice blog

  44. AJAJAJAJAAAAaaa Iove your paragraph summing up the Subcontinent:

    “…I realized that India doesn’t give a fuck about what you feel, think or don’t understand. India is one crazy bitch and she is who she is and either you adjust and enjoy the adventure or you are going to hate it. She doesn’t care about your feelings… she will tear you apart one minute and lift you up so high the next. She will make you see beauty in the most mundane things in life and at the same time make you see the horror of the reality that is the world we live in. She will feed you one second and make it a task to find food or water the next.”

    But yes, that is Mother India. She will make you see the worst of us human beings, and then reveal to you the utmost beauty in humanity.

    I can only imagine the trauma you & your travel companions felt initially when you boarded that train. It would definitely be living hell if you were not briefed about it. But hey, you survived to tell the tale!

    I had the fortunate karma of traveling the breadth of India twice with an amazing guide, my guru, for 2 weeks in 2012 and 3 weeks in 2014. On our first trip, we hired cars to go from Gujarat to Rajasthan through the old Aravalli mountain range (where a truck was turned over and a horde of curious monkeys swarmed the perilous mountain road to see if any food could be salvaged), and from Delhi up to the foothills of Haridwar and Rishikesh. The only train we took was a 6am train ride. Fortunately our guru pre-booked us sleeper seats because she wasn’t going to babysit 12 foreigners for 10 hours from Haridwar to Agra LOL. Therefore my Indian train experience wasn’t as nightmarish as I had read or heard about from veteran Indian travelers, but I did start to get the dreaded Delhi Belly, so I just popped a sleeping pill and decided to sleep through it, because diarrhea for 10 hours on an Indian train would’ve become that nightmare.

    The chaos is exactly why yoga, and meditation, was developed by the ancient sages of India. Imagine if you had to live in that shitstorm of a reality 24/7, wouldn’t you come up with a physical and mental exercise to to deal with all that?

    Reading your blog has inspired me to blog more (I have a feeble 4 posts from last year heehee). Do check out some of my Indian posts on my blog when you have the time.

    Good luck on all your future travels, in this life, and the next, my brother. 😉
    Harih OM.

  45. Oh India…..I just got back and have mixed feelings on India. I am sure I will go back someday
    Hannah @Getting Stamped recently posted..Guide to India Visa on Arrival (TVoA)

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yeah it’s a lot of mixed feelings when you travel through India… it’s intense & just so much rolled into one.

  46. ajeesh mai says:

    hiii…i love your pharagraph very much …even though i am india ..i can see, laugh and think “ohh what this guy saying is true” ….if you come back contact me..i will help you to seee ,what you want to see.?
    and if you come back come to tamil nadu(tamil) origin .of indus valley civilisation ..i will help you bro

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Ajeesh, I keep dreaming of going back to India, but have no clue when I will go back. This is really what India is and I’m glad you think so too.

  47. This ain’t fucking right, motherfucker!
    I see you’re born from your fathers asshole, but you shouldn’t have called India a bitch! Whatever India is, we fucking love it. You can go suck a dick! Fucking Americans. Assholes! Everyone of you!

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