Charlotte (my wife) and I recently spent seven weeks touring Northern India. As independent travellers, we followed a circuitous route through Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Sikkim.
I’d been to Nepal before so expected India to look fairly familiar but I wasn’t prepared for what met us on leaving Mumbai airport. Heat, hassle, poverty, dirt and a cacophony of noise. After the relative comfort of the plane and the airport, it felt like we’d dropped into a sea of absolute chaos. It was human life in its entirety with no visible separation. Everyone in sight seemed to be sharing the same space at the same time. To our unaccustomed eyes, the mixing of extremes was seriously overwhelming.
I looked at Charlotte as we travelled into the city and she was clearly in shock. She was staring open-mouthed as our driver manoeuvred around obstacles, vehicles and people. Organised chaos understates what it looked like and the honking of car horns and revving of engines was overwhelming. Tuk-tuks, cars and people shouting, beggars walking up to our vehicle, putting their heads inside, and asking for money; We are reasonably well-travelled but we weren’t ready for this. I guess it’s what’s meant by culture shock.
Acclimatising, when you go anywhere new, can feel an age away but it happens, eventually. Within two days, we were comfortably navigating the city, eating street food and booking train tickets. Our big trip had started and we’d once again left the trappings of home behind to become independent travellers. I can’t say it had become easier because it hadn’t but our big adventure had started and we were ready for our trip of a lifetime.
To see photographs from the trip visit my projects page.
To learn more about our backpacking exploits in India please feel to contact me.