I can’t believe it but one month has already gone by and it’s time to say goodbye to India. We saw and did some pretty incredible things this past month; rode camels at sunset in the desert, took a cooking class, visited the Golden Temple and Khajuraho temple carvings, saw open-aired crematoriums, played with elephants, trekked in the mountains, relaxed at a yogi resort, saw beautiful tea plantations, took a backwater boat cruise and a street food tour in Mumbai and haggled our hearts away! It was everything I thought it would be and at times like nothing I’d thought it would be. Although it’s hard to choose I think some of my favorite things were the Golden Temple, the Khajuraho temples, the boat cruise down the backwaters of Kerala and of course the people. What I loved most about the Indians are their smiles. Many times I found myself walking down the street and an Indian would be staring at me with this look of puzzlement. Just checking me out from head to toe, children, women and men. When we would finally make eye contact, we’d stare at each other for a few seconds and then I would crack a smile, and they would smile right back with a big old grin! This happened everytime! They would never make the first move but as soon as I did they were so happy to return that smile. Yes there were some things that were extremely infuriating in India but that was one thing that I would never get sick of.
However, there was one thing in particular that I was very sick of by the end and that was random people taking pictures of us. Sometimes they would ask politely if they could take a picture and other times they would boldy come up to us and take it without saying a word. Most of the time they asked if they could be in the picture with us as well. It was the strangest thing! If you said yes to one than five of their friends would all want one too. At the beginning it was entertaining but in the end it was downright annoying, especially when they would just come up to your face and snap a shot. I have a whole new respect for actors and famous people! I got in the habit of putting my hands over my face when I saw someone taking a picture and one time, after someone asked to take my picture I told him he could but that I charge 50 ruppees a photo. He was flabbergasted-haha!
The most intriguing thing I saw? Babies with eyeliner! On my very first day in India I saw little babies around 1 and 2 years old with dark heavy eyeliner! We’re talking thick lines and smudged (obviously babies rub their eyes)! I thought it was just a random incident but then I continued to see it throughout the trip and I kinda became obsessed with it. Why in the heck were babies wearing eyeliner? It was not sublte either, it was BOLD, it’s like they were trying to make a statement. I finally asked my guide what was up with all the eyeliner babies and he very casually said, “so they look pretty” with a tone like, I can’t believe you don’t know this. Well ok then! I waited a few days and asked another one of my guides about it again and I got the same answer, “we put it on them so that they look pretty” and that was it, no further explanation was given. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel comfortable with people looking at 1 year olds and thinking they look pretty but apparently they are completely fine with it here. It was my mission for the past month to get a picture of one of these eyeliner babies but it was tough because we would see one pass and I never had my camera ready. Well my time in India came full circle a few days ago when I finally spotted a baby wearing eyeliner with camera in hand. Granted this one was a boy (I think) so it’s not too bold but you can definitely see the eyeliner if you look closely. I even found the baby eyeliner when I was in Mumbai at a store- yes they make it specifically for children so that it’s safe- ha!
In the past 30 days Amy and I have traveled 16,608 miles since leaving Detroit on January 4th!That is the equivalent to crossing the USA and back multiple times. We accrued these miles in any form of transportation imaginable; trains, private cars, planes, elephants, tuk-tuks, cabs, boats, camels, rickshaws and good old fashion walking!! Amy was the perfect travel partner too! “I’d travel again with you again in a heartbeat girl and I promise that next time I won’t be on a fixed income and we can splurge on more luxurious accommodations”!! I’m gonna miss my travel buddy but hopefully I”ll meet new friends along the way.
Am I happy I came to India you may ask? Absolutely, it was eye opening and I have no regrets. Would I come back? Well there are so many places to see in this world so I’m not totally sure but if I did, it would be back to Kerela. I can confidently say that I probably won’t have Indian food for a year though and if I ever have anothe side dish of rice it will be too soon!
I”m currently on the plane and my butt is numb from sitting for the past 11 hours. I had a 7-hour flight to Soeul Korea out of Mumbai with a 4-hour layover and now I”m on my last leg. Ready to begin month 2 heading “further on” to the land of the Kiwis!