It’s a cliche, but nothing prepares you for India.
It’s huge, to get anywhere requires an overnight train journey; yet it’s still 50% more densely populated than the UK. And when you get there, the contrast is mindblowing. Octogenarian waifs will pull you and our two friends, in a hand-drawn rickshaw for ten pence to a bar where a beer costs three pounds.
Railway stations are home to thousands of people each night. Each station. Under staircases, all throughout the waiting rooms, arrival halls, platforms, and even between the tracks, people will lay their heads to catch some sleep. Simultaneously, the rich will pay thousands of dollars a month to rent marble apartment palaces in the south Delhi suburbs.
By the time you’ve realised what ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ really mean when compared, you will have been approached by thousands of rickshaw wallers, hundreds of stallholders, and tens of drug dealers. They prevail throughout all of the Indian cities I visited, although only in the touristy areas. Break out to areas where a white man is rare, and the warmth and excitement extended to you is genuine and has no strings attached.
It’s so rich in culture, they are knocking down thousand year old temples to build Commonwealth Games amenities, without complaint. It’s so rich in bacteria, that you’ll pretty much be shitting non-stop for your entire trip.
Here are a few images to accompany these and other words: