For any person to move to a foreign country it’s a huge deal,especially if you had not been there before. I grew up in Australia very multicultural. My best friend is Indian/Australian, yet has never visited the land. I also dated a 100% Indian boy when I was a teenager in high school, he had also never been to India.
After my first week spent in India I was kicking myself and racking my brain as to why I had not visited here sooner!
If you have not been to India, I suggest you plan a trip, it will change your life. The colours, the people, the food, you will be captured by all of these things and I warn you some don’t make it back. You may never return from this land.
Im debating whether or not to reveal my entire diary that I kept in India to the world I was there to film a documentary series and while there I kept a diary that started out being called: India Diary (LOL-so original) by the end the diary was renamed to – Dear India (and ended up being 3 x books). My letters to India are actually about 30,000 words. Argh a lot of typing I have ahead of me. I had my laptop, but for some reason I felt like keeping physical diary. I still don’t know why I decided to do this as I touch type and my computer is my everything. I guess it felt more ‘real’and like I was actually somewhere totally different.
My diary entries are extremely personal and I am still unsure about publishing all of them. I will however offer a few entries in thehope of inspiring others through my travels through Mother India.
I appreciate comments, but once again this is MY OPINION and my personal experience of India. Here are my first 2 personal diary entries:
I have decided to publish some of my personal diary entries that I have called DEAR INDIA.
Everything that I ever thought about India and everything that people tell you about India is wrong. Completely wrong.
This is my first impression on the ‘real India’.
I had heard that India had many dialects and the country was very linguistically varied, that people in the North could not understand the people in the South . I never really understood this concept entirely until today.
I’m already feeling overwhelmed with the numerology and superstitions of one of my colleagues in particular. These things are all very new to me.
We left Goa to enter the state of Karnataka with the intention of a six hour car journey in total it took us around nine, as my Indian colleagues who speak Hindi could not understand the directions given in Kannada by locals.
I could not even fathom if the language changed from state to state in the USA or Australia. The world seems to be opening up to me, I am scared and excited. I feel like a child. I feel like I know nothing.
During the entire trip my colleagues were chatting and joking loudly, with occasional English thrown in. They are from Mumbai and speak English, of course they speak Hindi to one another. They are not being rude it is natural for them this is their mother tongue so I understand. I was also kind of glad to have some time to put my earphones in and zone out, they are very intense people.
I had one conversation during the nine hour journey with a colleague. He shared something with me about a sect of Hindi’s that live in Varanasi. This disturbed me.
On the way to Badami we stopped in a small village- where it becomes apparent that no one had really seen a foreigner, especially a blonde one. The crew are all veg and eat at all-veg places. I am embracing this as I used to be totally veg and I often feel uncomfortable at the sight of meat or animals being killed. I eat fish and sushi, recently I have been having internal struggles with eating fish because I cant bare to kill anything. Is this the height of hyprocrisy, should I even be eating fish?
When I take a seat at the humble eatery immediately a man dressed in all-white clothes put down a veg thali. It is amazing, the smell, the flavors the array of little accompaniment. Have I died and gone to heaven? I feel like if I died right this minute I would be happy. This moment I decided that veg Indian food is the last meal I want to have in my life.
Everything that has passed my lips using my right hand in traditional Indian style , has been incredible even the simple food and dishes are tasty and perfect. How come the West has not embraced these exotic yet familiar comforting flavors more?
My day dreaming was broken suddenly. I had not even finished a third of what was on my plate and the man in white-clothes quickly lifted my plate and took it away?! What!!
I am now confused and a little disappointed, is this his way of telling me not to over-eat? Suddenly like a gust a wind the white-clothed man appears with another plate with a new array! Is this normal? What is going on? My colleagues are totally engrossed in their food and no one says a thing!
The saint-like man did this about four times. Not wanting to sound ‘un-worldly’, I casually mentioned this to a colleague when we are back in the car, he said that the man wanted to show me all of the food they had. I was a little annoyed at the time as my first thali was the one I wanted, needless to say that I am so over-whelmed with how this man served me food in a tiny little village. WOW! What hospitality! My colleagues confirmed that I was the first foreigner to eat there, I felt truly honored, that was 10 hours ago and I am still smiling about the food.
I am now eating confidently with my hands, well kind of. I feel like I am still not doing it properly but I try to watch others, I am really slow with my hands and I feel like I need to keep an eye on others and copy their technique. Tomorrow I will try to watch and get a better style.
What really surprised me on the journey was we stopped in at a hotel in a village (cafe in India) we didn’t eat there, but they still offered us a large jug of water. Australia used to be like this, but now your hard pressed to even have someone let you use their bathroom!
All my inhibitions and feelings I normally have had about developing countries are not there. I have traveled a lot and I have visited many countries where I don’t feel comfortable. There is something about India, something about this land the feels oddly familiar. I am alone, yet I don’t feel uncomfortable as I thought I would. I don’t particularly care for my colleagues, they seem a little too aggressive and too city-like for me, but somehow I really like all of the other people I have come in contact with. The people seem kind, with kind eyes and nice hearts, not what I was expecting at all.
We arrived tonight at 11pm I am exhausted and can only think about laying down flat as opposed to being upright and bumpy along the dirt, unfinished road that lead us into the last stretch of 10k into Badami.
As I lay down writing this, I cant help but think about the journey from Goa and a conversation about Varanasi and the Hindi sect that are basically cannibals of the dead… what I learned was that they eat some of the dead person for special supernatural powers. I’m not one to judge customs and I am open to other people’s beliefs, but this did leave a particular impression and thinking of this still is a little disturbing to me.
For now I need to switch my brain off. Tomorrow is a new day I am sleeping in Badami and I have not even seen what this place looks like!
Day 2. Badami
I woke very early, to the sound of call to prayer. I fell asleep around 1 am last night and woke at 5.30am to the call. I normally sleep eight hours, but was way too excited to see where I was.
I pulled back the curtains I stepped onto the balcony it was still dark. I watched the sun rise and to my surprise I could see temples…I was left breathless, it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I ever witnessed. I started to cry, I wasn’t sad I was crying because of the beauty, it had shocked me and pleased me. I didn’t expect it.
I had not slept long, and had a nine hour bumpy car journey, but unexplicably I felt energized, was this a religious epiphany? Why was I feeling so over whelmed and happy and full of energy.
(The first morning- I took this sunrise pic with very blurry eyes- I was overwhelmed by this sunrise)
Well, in all seriousness it probably wasn’t an epiphany, but suddenly, this morning, all the drama and troubles from the days before became meaningless and I am now alive.
All the beauty in the world that you can imagine is here outside my window, it feels surreal like I am watching a TV screen. There are ancient temples, wild boars running through the dusty streets and baby monkeys climbing all over the buildings. THIS IS THE REAL INDIA!
(I adore how the ladies in the south dress and adorn their hair with flowers)
90 days is a long time and a huge commitment to move to a new foreign and unknown country. I am the sort of person who loves an adventure but after a few weeks in another country I am ready to get back to my world and life.
I am starting to realize that visiting India is a gift. Had I not visited I would not have seen the real India. All of the troublesome media that we are exposed to in the West is unbelievable. I read an article in LA Weekly just before I came here, it was written with a purpose and even had accounts from Indian nationals. I wont go into the article, but lets just say it was enough to make anyone think that India is a totally sexist country that doesn’t respect women!
I have been given this gift to live in India and experience the real India and now I am living and experiencing it. Everything that I had previously read is typically sensationalized and one-sided and now I plan to use this gift in educating the world.
I am in India shooting a travel series. I am here for 90 days traveling the whole country top to bottom, for a documentary series about a solo-female traveler called Backpack.
When I arrived in Badami to start filming and give a piece to camera about Goa to Badami immediately a crowd drew, this was not anything out of the normal, but during this I met with some local village children who were talking in broken English, asking me questions and trying to help us. I immediately fell in love with these little kids, their warmth and smiles and spirit came through their eyes. The little children that I have met here have such amazing shining eyes.
They helped us set up equipment and were so well behaved, with their mother standing in the wings, the little children who I am sure did not understand a word my colleague was shouting, stood in perfect line as if they were lining up for school. Even though there was a communication barrier I feel the warmth and interest from Karnataka locals. They really amazed me at how well-behaved (not to mention adorable) they were.
Another warm encounter today, was with an elderly Lady on the edge of the lake washing, she was 80 years old, I was having a break from work and she and took me in her arms, she didn’t even know me but showed me so much love. She also tried on my glasses (so cute) all language barriers were gone, we had a human connection we shared laughter and love.
A profound connection with someone so different I really felt in that moment that we are all human and the human spirit is all it takes to make a connection. Thinking about humans and even when we have cultural/language barriers shifts my mind to a more peaceful state. I am feeling more relaxed and at ease the more I connect with local people here.
I explored Badami caves build in the 6th Century for Gods and Goddesses of the time, the caves for Lord Shiva and Jain. They were impressive and my mind is boggled at how they achieved this attention to detail in this era. The artisans of time were incredibly talented.
The Archeological society of India have maintained the ancient carvings well. We are often stopped shooting in certain areas on monuments to honor this and from a journalists perspective, and my Directors perspective this can be frustrating but I can understand they need to maintain the caves, this is a great thing. I feel that the Archeological Society of India are doing a great job in maintaining these historically important monuments.
Today was a holiday and locals flocked to the temple to give respect to their Gods. I have to admit, I became the focus of their day with film crew in toe, the villagers were overwhelmingly interested in us and requested picture after picture. Looking so unique compared to the people in this village in Karnataka its not surprising. What is surprising is their politeness and kindness.
A lady enjoying the holiday with her daughter and husband, came to greet me. I complimented her daughter on her braids and told her, her hair style looked pretty, Immediately her mother, who I learned was a school teacher in their village, began to untie my hair and start to braid it too! The way she braided my hair, with such a gentle and caring touch was just as surprising as her braiding it in the first place. Such a small intimate moment to share with stranger is uplifting and makes me feel positive about life.
I have decided to share my entire diary (well, not everything) but I am sharing a lot of my personal diary on my blog in a section with the same name as my diary: