Travel: 7th week MT

Going to India doesn’t exactly fit into the category of a night-life holiday, a relaxing beach holiday, or a luxury break. Upon arriving in Bangalore, I was immediately immersed in the chaotic gridlock of Indian roads: every size of vehicle squeezes into any available space, tight to the millimetre, and 
announces each movement with the blaring honk of a horn. The chaos of inner city Bangalore becomes part of the day-to-day; you learn to calmly accept that your driver knows this game better than you, and if he wants to create a brand new lane then he can do just that.
 
But once you push past the chaos and reach the oasis of calm, there is a lot to appreciate. The city is rapidly changing and much is now brand new, although there are still parts that are thousands of years old. A typical journey would involve hopping in an auto rickshaw (which will set you back 75p or so), where you’ll swerve past roadside stalls with pristine towers of fruit and veg, women in bright flowing saris buzzing around on motorbikes and shop displays of impossibly glamorous bling. The odd cow comically chilling in a road is also a genuine reality.
 
As a young woman travelling alone in India, I was initially unsure as to whether I was supposed to be scared or not. It turned out that when I got there I was always pretty relaxed. I spent a lot of time on buses or public spaces, and people always treated me with a kind of inquisitive interest. There would always be someone to help me figure out what bus stop to get off at, to tell me the best place for dosa’s in town, or where to stop off for spiritual guidance.
 
On a weirder level, I lost count of the times people asked me to pose in photos with them. Though my experience in Southern India was pretty safe, I heard many accounts of a very different picture in the more northern areas of the country, which would make me more dubious of travelling there alone.
 
It was the sea of culture that I was able to dip into that made my trip to India what it was. Life seems to be full to the brim of festivals and ceremonies, inspired by the ancient legends which permeate so much of Indian culture be it art, dance, theatre, song or just a plain celebrations. One tradition is the immersion a sculpture of the Hindu God Ganesh in water, before which there were hundreds of Ganesh sculptures lining the streets in market stalls or shops. Another is the “dasara” festival which brings together literary greats and cultural figures alongside decorated elephants and celebrations. An intense, sometimes relentless, but always surprising trip — visiting India is an experience that has left me with a feeling that there was so much more to see.