There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to fully describe India in all its grime and grandeur. You have to see, hear, smell, touch, taste it for yourself. India was my first trip outside the United States. Seriously. Most European destinations didn’t seem exotic enough for me in my early twenties. If travel were the Olympics, I was going for the gold.
India is brilliant. I went there as a member of a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team to build houses. After a week of building in a slum outside Mumbai, we headed south to Khammam, Andra Pradesh. No visit to India is complete without seeing the Taj Mahal, so we also toured Delhi and Agra. In addition to being the most vibrantly colored place on Earth, India is a sea of humanity, and all that goes along with it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Memories of my experience there are seared into my mind as if they were at the end of a branding iron. Sipping Limca, a lemon-lime flavored soft drink, on a hot sunny day. The crazy ferry ride to get to the Caves of Elephanta. Riding the public train out of Victoria Station to get to the worksite. Shopping for sarees with the ladies and choosing a coordinating fabric for a custom fitted choli and petticoat. Visiting Gandhi’s gravesite and a leper colony. Having to remove your shoes almost everywhere you go. Seeing David Hasselhoff trotting down the beach on Bay Watch on television in my hotel room in Delhi. Eating lunch on a banana leaf. The chai. The Rickshaws. The list goes on.
It’s been quite some time since my visit, and although I bet its changed, I bet its the same too. I hope to be going back soon. Maybe to build more houses.