Tag Archives: India

India and Nepal Adventure – What Have I Learned?

2 Aug

It has been almost a week since I am back home from my grand, 32 day India and Nepal adventure. In this post I will try to asnswer some reflective questions that I, myself, created to help me gain perspective and give you a glimpse into this adventure.

1. What are some of the highlights of this trip?

There are so many! But I think Taj Mahal will always stay with me for it was so GRAND and stately. And I know it’s a real “staple” of Indian culture, however, it was a simmetrical perfection! We were there in a low season so it was not as crowded. I kept thinking: “You have been to TAJ!” How many people can say that? I am lucky, no doubt about it.

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Additionally, thoughout the whole trip, simple people have touched my heart in many ways. A girl standing in the rain, a lady washing her clothes at a monkey temple, an old man reading the newspaper, a young girl feeding a mango to her child, a woman praying… There were so many interesting/intriguing/fascinating photo opportunities! Some photo moments were private but because of my zoom lense, I could stay far away and not interfere with the activities those people were doing. Here are (just some, very few) examples:

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(all these photos are from India)

Bottom line, you can travel to 20 countries, see every single monument, but usually it’s simple people that make your trip all worth it.

2. What are some of the low lights of this trip?

Oh, so many! Logistically, India and Nepal are hard to travel in, with their tourist industry still developing. Overnight train rides were not fun, neither were extreme temperatures! In India we had to wait 1.5 hours for our food to come out. I tried to refrain from whining so I would whine silently to myself. Poverty was a big low point, with people living under bridges, in terrible conditions. No clean water was another one. Lack of opportunity and a fair shot at life – another. Cast system! Children begging on the streets, disabled people trying to get your attention at train stations. Flies! Cow extrement in the middle of the road! Treatment of animals in general!

3. What have I learned from this trip?

Every day I would write in my travel diary how lucky I feel to be an American and to be living in the U.S. I was so proud to say that I am from the United States of America

As a United States citizen we get respect, services, benefits from our government. There is equal opportunity for everyone, a fair shot at life (for the most part). There are laws, regulations and consequences. There is clean water! I can pour a glass of tap water right now and drink it and be ok. We live in a house as big as some embassies in Kathmandu. I can complain and make use of due process. I can make fun of Obama! I can be gay or I can be straight!I can write a blog entry, even though English is not my native language and the blog is bad!  I can take a jog in my neighborhood without stepping into cow feces. I can breathe in a lung full of clean air and I can spend time in the park. My kids can go to school, for free. I can see a doctor any time I feel sick. I have a choice in reagrds to how I want to live my life.

Clearly, my major takeway is being grateful for where I live and for all the amenities I can enjoy on a regular basis. It’s the little things in life that count. Let’s take a moment and thank the Universe for all the things we have, even if it’s tap water.

 

 

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Good Morning from Agra

11 Jul

6AM in Agra, India. Up, face washed, teeth brushed. Horns beeping all over, work day starts. Tuk-tuk rikshaws hustling back and forth, streets become alive.

Phone call to room service gets me a big pot of coffee. Instant but the best one ever. Email check, all good, world is still here.

Grateful to be here, to have the opportunity to travel and get to know this amazing country. A country of extreme contrasts. The country of the kindest people.

Grateful to be on vacation here yet grateful to be a citizen of my own country. Feeling homesick. A sip of coffee. Deep breath.

Browsing through photos. Which one shall I share with the world today?…

Here it is:

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All photos property of Daria Pizzuto

Touching Lives. Making a Difference. Adding Value. Jaiselmer, India.

11 Jul

On this tour we have stayed in a little town called Jaiselmer, smack in the middle of Rajasthani desert. The Golden City is not big but very beautiful (minus the sand dust).

In that hotel there were four young men that worked as “everything” – they cooked, waited tables, cleaned, and fixes the place. So, they did everything and then some. The youngest one was only fourteen years old! And they oldest one was seventeen.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to clarify what it is to be a white person with platinum blond hair and green eyes in India. People will ask to take a picture with you, they will ask you tons of questions and would want to shake your hand. They will also stare and follow you. You feel like you are a cross between an alien and a celebrity. A lot of local people consider it a privilege to converse with a tourist and especially if he or she invites you to sit down next to them.

On any trip I take, I like to get to know the local people. So, after we have settled down in our hotel, I have started asking questions of the four guys we had working there. I asked about heir hometown, their dreams, what they would want to do with their lives, whether they want to travel… Then I have asked whether I can take some portraits. Here are the portraits that came out:

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When we were taking those portraits their eyes were shining, and the smiles were so broad and grateful! I think tourists rarely pay attention to people like this in addition to the fact that hotel staff are trained to be “invisible”. I could just see the appreciation in their eyes that a foreigner has taken the time to get to know them, ask questions, and be interested in them as human beings. One of the guys liked having his portrait taken so much, he even asked me if I can do it again! And here is the result:

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It is possible that they will remember me for a while – some blond, pale American lady that liked taking pictures and get to know people. And that puts a smile on my face 🙂

Feel bad about your life? Travel to India.

11 Jul

Today is my fourteenth day in India with around seven days to go. I have been journaling on a regular basis yet the internet connection has been so slow I couldn’t post anything!

So far we have visited Bikaner, Jaiselmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur and now we are in Agra for two days.

My observation of India has been mixed. I love some parts of it (it’s people and its’ history and culture) and dislike other parts of it (poverty, segregation, pollution).

On our way from New Delhi to Bikaner (via 8hour train ride) we have passed by some unbelievable slums. And those are not even the worst ones. In India, you will find people living under scorching sun, under bridges, in makeshift houses. These houses are pretty much a piece of cloth that is supported by four bamboo sticks. Some people live on less than one dollar (!) a day.

I have taken some photos of the slums to share with you.

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I have asked my tour members to remind me to look at these photos anytime I am complaining about United States and how miserable my life is.

I am grateful for so many things that we so often take for granted:
Clean water, electricity, free education, clean air, nice roads and highways, garbage collection, a government that uses our a taxes to fix things and provide a safe, pleasant environment for us to live. Don’t get me wrong, things are not perfect in the U.S. yet when you compare the life style to some people in India, my heart fills with gratitude that I am an American.

Rajastan, India Highlights

2 Jul

For the past three days we were in Rajastan, India. Apart from wondering the markets, we rode camels into the desert and camped out in the desert. We had a camp dinner and listened to music. As the desert grew dark, we looked at the night sky. It was mesmerizing.

We have made our way from Jaiselmer, to Johdpur, to Udaipur. Every city seems to have a fort (pretty useful in times) and vibrant markets.

I am having such problems uploading with pictures so those will have to wait until I come back home. Hope everyone has a good day!

First Few Days in India

29 Jun

Today is my third day in India, with twenty seven to go (with Nepal).

My first impression of India is that it’s a very beautiful country with so much culture. In some places dirty, smoky and corrupt, yet the people are amazing. Here are some pictures from my initial days here:

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