Taking Flight…

5 Things I Love About India

SubscribeFiled Under: India,by Neeraj

I was thinking about the things that I love about my motherland, India, and the things that I hate about it. It didn’t take me very long to come up with a list of 5 things that I love and 5 things that I hate about it. Anyone who has visited the country even once will have a strong opinion on it, let alone those who live there or have lived there a long time (like me). With India, you either love it or hate it – there is no in-between!

Here are 5 things that I love about the country. I hope you find it amusing, but in any case, do let me know if you agree or disagree with what I’ve written.

5) Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos is the best way to describe India and it’s probably how most people think of India. A first time visitor to the country will become overwhelmed by the different sights and smells, the government bureaucracy and of course, the unruly traffic. It’s a country where the adage “rules are for fools” strictly stands – just try standing in line (or queue as they say in India) to buy a train ticket and see when your turn comes – वाट बघा! It’s a place where simply crossing the road reminds you to count your blessings and reinforces your belief in God. There is a joke about a man who wanted to cross a busy road but was having a difficult time so he asked a person on the other side who was watching him how he crossed it, and he replied saying he doesn’t know as he was born on that side! With so much chaos everywhere, it’s said that if there is one place on Earth where there is God, then it is India!

How to cross...?

How to cross…?

In spite of the chaos, the country will not cease to fascinate. India is a country that one either loves or hates – and I love it – there is no in-between!

4) Cheap Cheap Cheap!

Although inflation is quite high (around 10%), India is still cheap. The unfortunate wealth and income disparity among its billion-plus citizens means there is a huge range in prices for everything. For example, a healthy and filling meal can be had for as little as 50-rupees ($1) to more than 500-rupees ($10). Accommodation in the heart of Mumbai can be arranged for as little as 500-rupees/night ($10) to over 10,000-rupees/night ($200).  A one-way sleeper-class train ticket between Mumbai and New Delhi can be booked for as little as 500-rupees ($10) to over 4000-rupees for ($80) first class.

It’s this price range that really enables me get the maximum value for my money than is possible in North America or Europe. Having said that, no where is the statement you-get-what-you-pay-for more applicable than in India!

3) Monsoon Bliss

There are probably not many places in the world where the rainy season is more eagerly awaited than in India. The monsoon rains offer much needed respite from the heat after the hot summer. For me, there is a sort of thrill in seeing a cloudy sky in India, which I’ve come to despise in Canada! Just imagining sitting on Mumbai’s Marine Drive watching the waves splash on the rocks with the rain lashing on my face makes me nostalgic about the monsoon season.

Marine Drive in the Monsoon Season

Marine Drive in the Monsoon Season

Probably the best cure for our mundane life is a monsoon trek in the Sahyadris when the mountains just come to life with numerous waterfalls, streams and verdant greenery to remind us that Nature is God. Getting soaked in the rain is a pleasure I’ve come to truly enjoy in the mountains.

2) Integration of Nature with the Man-made

The people of ancient India had mastered the art of building monuments and cultural artefacts in a way that kept the natural characteristic of a place. There are literally thousands of such monuments all over the country. For example, hiking in Maharashtra is not just about climbing mountains, but also exploring the centuries-old hill-forts built by the great Maratha leader, Shivaji. It is impossible not to appreciate how the mountain topography was used to build impenetrable forts. Ajanta and Ellora are other fine examples – they are not just caves, but rather intricately carved masterpieces of religious art.

It is not just ancient cultural monuments where I get to see this integration. Many Indian villages, especially the remote ones, are excellent examples of sustainable development. It’s really wonderful to see how a village, where the houses are built using natural materials such as stones, cow-dung, mud and wood, blends in perfectly with its environment. For me, one of the highlights of hiking in India is getting to see the beautiful remote mountain villages.  I think today’s modern “development” is all about destroying the environment – and we call the villages “backward”!

Ambevadi village (Photo Credit: Rohan Shinde)

Ambevadi village (Photo Credit: Rohan Shinde)

Many places in India have local legends associated with them or are mentioned in ancient Hindu texts like the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, which makes visiting these places that much more interesting for me as it adds a bit of mysticism and aura. The unique integration of nature with the man-made is what continues to fascinate me about many of the places in India.

1) Richness in Diversity

The No. 1 thing I love about India is its richness. It’s richness in diversity … in cultures, religions, languages, food, festivals … people! I don’t think any other country in the world can boast of such diversity. Each of the 28 states and 7 union territories in India have their own official language(s), writing script(s), dominant religion, festivals, food, ways of dressing etc. It’s as if each state is its own little country. This is the reason why Indian people generally identify themselves by the state they are from (unlike in China where 90% of people are Han Chinese and speak the same language).

Mmmm.... delicious!

Mmmm…. delicious!

Yemshe Festival in Meluri, Nagaland

Yemshe Festival in Meluri, Nagaland

It’s this very diversity that makes traveling in India so interesting and fascinating. Travel in India can be a lot of things, but never boring! You can still find indigenous tribes that are totally isolated and untouched by the modern civilization. In spite of having lived in Canada for nearly 18 years, its this diversity that keeps attracting to India. It’s the primary reason I’ve made 6 trips to India in the last 5 years, ranging in duration from 2 weeks to 6 months – there is always something new to do and see in India!

मेरा भारत महान!

What do you love about India?

See Also: 5 Things I Hate About India

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