I received an email forward the other day titled, India – Not a Place for Tourists. Immediately I opened it and was presented with nothing but a slideshow of extremely disturbing images such as these:
I was disgusted, not with the images, but of how India was exploited and then touted as a place not for tourists. How could someone create a slideshow of horrific images, of a place they’ve probably never been (or if they have, probably never embraced), title it, save it and forward it to all their friends stating that, because of what is presented, one should be advised against visiting?
Unfortunate lifestyles occur all over the world. What about human trafficking in countries like Cambodia?
Or an actual city made out of trash and named accordingly, such as Garbage City in Cairo, Egypt:
Or the 15,000 homeless people right here in Toronto?
India shouldn’t be discriminated against because there is a high percentage of poverty. Poverty exists. Of course there are certain levels, but it’s all one and the same.
What about all the positives that make India truly great? Its beauty:
I was fortunate enough to visit Goa a few years ago and while I was there for only a weekend, and while most wouldn’t consider it a “true representation of India”, it was just long enough for me to experience what lies beneath the surface of those unforgiving slideshow images in that email forward. The people of India are innocently curious, willing to pitch in and seemingly content. They run businesses like anyone else, play like the everyone else and eat wholeheartedly.
Furthermore, it is one of the most mind-opening places on earth.
One day during my trip, my Goan friend, whom I met up with while there, took me to his favorite spot. His thinking spot. His spot to runaway to when he wanted to escape the moment and just be. We rode his motor bike up a stony mountain, down narrow paths, through prickly brush and finally reached a cliff overlooking heaven:
He said, “India is the only place on earth that awakens all five of your senses”. When I thought about what that meant, he was right.
The palette of sari colors that blend among the crowds create a mix of hues so pleasing to the eye you won’t want to blink.
Aroma’s of graham masala, cummin and saffron swirl through the air so thick your nose can’t tell the difference between being in front of food or not.
Whether you indulge in a prawn cocktail or tikka masala, each mouthful is presented with tens of thousands of flavors; identifying exactly what’s in it is nearly impossible.
The 415 languages varied from community by passing community, overwhelm your ears so much that the iconic sounds of Led Zepplin or Elvis Presley couldn’t compare.
And finally your sense of touch. More than silky materials, anything here can enlighten you with just a simple touch. Swirling your fingers through one of India’s breathtaking beaches, pressing your fingers against a Buddah, grasping the rubber handle bars while you zip through villages on a motor bike, ripping apart naan and dipping it in authentic butter chicken.
India is more than just poverty displayed across a few powerpoint slides in an email forward. It’s a country that is hardworking:
and a place that makes you feel alive in a way you never thought possible.