Of all the places I have visited, I think India is the most misunderstood. It is a destination that people either really want to visit or one in which they have no desire whatsoever. When I ask someone why they don't want to travel there, they always say, "because of the poverty" or "because it is so dirty". Since they have not been, they are just going off of what they have heard or what they have seen on the news. Ironically, the only people I have heard return from India and not fall in love with it are people who have traveled there for work or people who have gone as part of a budget trip. Let me tell you, if I flew all the way to India only to be stuck in a hotel meeting room for days, working, I wouldn't like it either. Thankfully, India is so tremendously much more than this.
So what about the images some of us have of the poverty and grime? Well, every time I go to India, I notice the pictures that visitors are taking, and it always surprises me. So many seem to want to capture the grit, even in places where there is great beauty that they are missing. How many times have I been in a stunning setting, but the tourists around me have their cameras shoved in the faces of the "destitute but beautiful children" or the older people with many wrinkles and rough skin but beautiful bright eyes. Travel magazines and Facebook followers love (technically "like") photos such as these, showing vibrant souls peaking out of a life fraught with struggle. Meanwhile a gorgeous sun is setting behind a majestic temple and they miss it.
And then there is "Slumdog Millionaire", a movie based exclusively on the seedy, corrupt and sad aspects of a country in the midst of change. But I will be the first to admit that Slumdog is a much bigger hit than my movie about India would be. My movie showing travelers stepping out of their stunning palace-turned hotel for a day of touring thousand-year-old sites, meeting locals in the marketplaces, and ending the day with a sensational dinner probably wouldn't sell.
But all of these things are what make India so fascinating and captivating. It is the constant juxtaposition of two opposing things: centuries-old buildings next to very modern architecture, and ancient recipes reimagined with ingredients from around the world. It is Bollywood with all of its glamour, wealth, and physical beauty next to people who have very little, and whose inner light and happiness shine brighter than any of the colorful dances of Bollywood.
India is absolutely inspirational, and it is aspirational. Going to India allows me to hit a reset button on how I want to live my life. I am inspired by its beauty and so much more inspired by the people. I aspire to think about life the way they do, full of appreciation and happiness for what they have, and a deep understanding for what truly matters.
When you go to India you can have a luxurious experience like nowhere else in the world. You can also have a spiritual experience like nowhere else in the world. You can see the difficulties of life for many of its residents, and you can see the beauties of their lives, as well. But like anything in life, and like any destination, if you go with a certain thing in your mind, and are constantly looking for it, you will probably find it. It might be the only thing you see. But someone right next to you may see something totally different. These photos will give you a great idea of the India that I see and experience, and I bet they will make you want to join me on our next Zoom Vacations India tour. http://www.zoomvacations.com/galleryindia.htm