India was the first place I had traveled where all my senses were violated all at one time. I just got back from Brasil four days before I was leaving for India. I started freaking out when I had to have both visa’s in my passport prior to leaving on both trips. My passport came back the day before I left for Brasil on the wheelchair adventure.
July 4 is my favorite holiday but I completely missed it that year. I got on the plane on the third and arrived in India on the fifth. I was still an inexperienced traveler at this time (and still am) but I learned a lot from Martine from Petit World Citizen . I didn’t know how big of a shock going to India would be or what kind of an affect it would have on me. Their first class in many places was our last class. Restaurants, hotels, and trains.
We flew into New Delhi and went to the Red Castle, Agra to see the Taj Mahal and visited numerous Hindu temples. I was there in July and is was the worse heat and humidity I had ever felt and I’m from the east coast. When we traveled we traveled hard.
We took a train 36 hours down to Pune in Maharashtra. The train ride across the India countryside was stellar. I am a believer that riding the train is a lost art so it was a nice time travel, relax, and get to know people on the train. When you went to the bathroom everything just fell onto bare railroad tracks. I remember watching rats run across the floor as people set their food down after they were done with it.
While in Pune I was helping out in a little medical office. Each morning we would take bucket baths, where you take a ladle and poor water over your head then soap up and rinse off. We would take rickshaws around town and get to know the locals. The weather in Pune is very favorable compared to the north in July. I helped out in the clinic but really I was learning how to do a lot with little to no resources because that’s what the medical staff did. It was fantastic.
While in the Maharashtra I had the opportunity to visit Jamkhed which was a rural health project in Ahmednagar. In Jamkhed they taught the villagers how take care of themselves by teaching primary community based health care. Similar to what Paul Farmer did in Cange who pioneered Partners in Health. Teaching the community to take care of itself. I started learning more about public health while traveling. I almost feel it would have been a better field for me to study.
The things I saw in India I will never forget, a caste system, people living with nothing, and the worst living conditions. In Mumbai I remember seeing a very old naked lady lying in the street. These are the things I look for when traveling. I don’t want to stay in nice resorts, I want to see the real world. I want to see how people really live. I came back with almost as bad reverse culture shock as I did when I came back from Yap. I didn’t think it was fair that I got to have clean running water come out of my sink when so many people didn’t.