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      23.11.2008 20:07
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      A fantastic experience but too much to see in the time available

      Last year I did something that I have dreamt of doing for many years. I visited Northern India. I have friends in New Delhi and we arranged to tour what is known as the 'Golden Triangle'. This took in Delhi itself, Jaipur with all its 'pink' buildings and the famous Taj Mahal.

      The review includes the names of the hotels we stayed in because it is about a 'tour' of Northern India. The hotels are all landmark buildings in their own right, especially the Jai Mahal Palace and they formed part of the tour.

      We flew to Delhi overnight from Heathrow and met up with our friends at the Taj Palace Hotel which is only ten minutes from the airport in a taxi. It is a fabulous place but we were only there for one night so weren't able to use all the facilities.


      ***Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi***

      The hotel stands in six acres of carefully manicured gardens and at first sight it is really imposing. Our room was spacious and really sumptuously furnished. Everything that you would expect from a top class hotel was available in the room, including a spacious, marbled bathroom, TV, internet access, hairdryer, shaver point, etc. The view from the room was excellent too. We could see across the city which was quite spectacular once it got dark.

      We had dinner in the Orient Express which is a restaurant within the hotel which is modelled on the old Orient Express train. The menu offers food from every country that the train passed through. You can eat here at lunch, or dinner time every day except Sunday. I had the most delicious crab starter and followed it with beef Wellington because I do tend to be quite conservative in my eating. My partner was more adventurous and enjoyed truffles and l'escargot. The food was excellent and the service could not be faulted.

      Masala Art offers traditional North Indian food and you can dine on fresh masalas and sugar cane juice if you are feeling adventurous. The chef cooks the meal in front of you. If we had stayed another night I might have been persuaded to sample this.

      Outside dining is also available but there was a slightly cool wind when we arrived so we opted for the comfort of the Orient Express.

      Other facilities in the hotel include laundry, fitness centre, car hire, currency exchange, beauty salon and even laptop hire which pleased my other half.


      ***Sightseeing in Delhi***

      Our first tour was a quick look around the architecture designed by Sir Edward Lutyens. He designed the Rajpath which is a boulevard lined with ponds, trees and lawns and the India Gate, which is India's largest war memorial.

      Other things to see, even with limited time are the beautiful Rashtrapti Bhavan which is the Presidential Palace (also designed by Lutyens) and Parliament House.

      Don't miss the Qutub Minar which is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and is home to the tallest brick minaret in the world.

      The Red Fort is a must see as well. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahran in the 1600's as the centre of his planned, new capital city, Shahjahranabad. Not far from here is the sixteenth century tomb of Humayan which was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal.


      Next stop: Agra for a couple of nights at the Taj View Hotel.


      ***The Taj View Hotel.***

      Our next stop was the Taj View Hotel in Agra. Everyone in our group was really excited because we planned to get up really early and see the sunrise at the Taj Mahal.


      The hotel itself was not of the same standard as the previous one we had stayed at but I really had no complaints. The meal we had in the Jhankhar Restaurant was excellent but I much preferred the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel coffee shop. Service was excellent and the staff were friendly and helpful. When we arrived we were told about all the hotel facilities, including a beautiful outdoor pool and shown to our room which was bright, clean, well furnished and very comfortable.

      We were a bit disappointed because we didn't get a room with a view of the Taj Mahal but we were told by another guest that you have to ask for a 4th floor room and pay a supplement if you want a good view.


      ***Taj Mahal***

      The next morning we all waiting in anticipation for sunrise at the Taj. 20,000 craftsmen worked for 20 years to build this memorial for the Emperor Shah Jahan, which honoured his favourite queen, Mumtaz.

      The building is a strange and exotic blend of Hindu, Mughal and Persian architecture . The beautiful marble dome which seemed to have a pink hue at sunrise and the tall minarets are like something from a fairytale book.


      ***The Red Fort***


      This huge sixteenth century construction has a very unhappy history. Shah Jahan was imprisoned here within the towers, with a view of the Taj Mahal, so that he looked upon the last resting place of his beloved Queen, Mumtaz.

      He was in fact imprisoned by his youngest son who staged a coup and declared himself to be the ruler and Emperor of India.

      There are a number of beautiful mosques here too, and the marble Khas Mahal Palace with its carefully tended gardens is certainly not to be missed.

      The whole story of Mumtaz's death and the story of how Shah Jahan was forced to look each day at the tribute he had raised to her comes to life and you can get a real feel of the place as you look at the Taj Mahal from the Red Fort.

      This is an experience not to be missed and certainly a place in the world that I will not forget. On my personal list of 'wonders of the world' this comes very close to the top.




      Next stop Jaipur.


      ***Jai Mahal Palace***

      This was the third hotel of this particular chain that we stayed in. The two night stay allowed us to relax and get our breath back a little bit. I was, at this point, feeling tired with the heat and all the moving around.

      The Jai Mahal Palace is surrounded by landscaped gardens, just like the other two, but this one is very central for the colourful markets and monuments of Jaipur. It is a historic palace which dates from 1745 and you get that old colonial kind of feeling throughout the hotel, even in the rooms.

      Furnishings are opulent and luxurious with silks, miniature paintings, colonial style furniture , really beautifully crafted bathrooms and, in contrast, all mod cons including internet access, telephone, etc.

      Staying in this hotel was certainly an experience in its own right. You could easily imagine it as a Maharajah's palace.


      ***The Amber Fort***


      Up in the rugged hills, just outside Jaipur is the Amber Fort. It was a lot cooler and fresher up there and it was a welcome change.

      This fort which stands above Amber, was built by Raj Man Singh is 1592 despite its rough and rugged looking exterior, this building has a richly designed interior which is a mixture of Hindu and Mughal architectural styles. The interior walls are decorated with precious stones, paintings, decorative inlaid panels and the ceilings are literally fabulous with their mirrors and intricate carvings.


      ***Other Things to See in Jaipur***


      In Jaipur itself there is an impressive Royal Observatory and the Maharajah's Palace which takes up one seventh of the walled city of Jaipur. This maze of gardens, courtyards, and buildings is certainly worth exploring.

      The Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds, is five storeys high and has a strangely pyramidal front with screened windows, domes and spires. This red sandstone building was used by ladies of the court so that they could watch what was happening in the bazaars below without being seen themselves.


      ***Home Again and Verdict***


      Unfortunately that was all we had time for. The only regret that I had about this holiday was that seven days was not enough. It all felt a bit rushed and by the time we got back to Delhi and the Taj Palace Hotel, I was feeling very tired. By the time we got on the plane I had really had enough.

      I would love to go back for a couple of weeks and retrace our footsteps but spend longer exploring the places we visited. Jaipur was my favourite and I would have liked to wander round the Hawa Mahal for longer and to have been able to inspect the bazaars a little more closely.

      Would I do it again. Yes, please, I'll pack my bag now.

      If you want a real adventure but you want to stay in luxurious hotels too, this is the place to go. It won't break the bank, as luxury tours go as it cost just under £2000 for the two of us. This might seem a lot but all our meals were catered for, we had the best of accommodation and transport between places in a car, rather than a coach. I thought it was excellent value for money and would suit adults and older children but it isn't a holiday for the little ones.

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        25.09.2008 17:44

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        You just have to experience it

        A trip to india is not just a trip, it is an assault on all your senses, emotions, and a constant battle. All of that said that does not make it a bad experience, for me it has been one of the most special in my life, and having now been there 3 times, and going back at chrisymas, must say addictive. Its not clean, or sterile, it is a thronging mass of humanity, all trying to get by. However, it is beautiful, and for me the most spiritual country in the world- NOT Necessarily religious, but it really makes you look into your soul. Whether you visit the deserts odf Rajastan, with the majestic Jaislemer rising up from the desert, or the Ganges at Varanasi, with its throngs of pilgilms washing in its waters, or lounge on a sunkissed, palm lined beach in the south, you will gain something different.
        Really think about a visit to india, it is more than you can ever dream for

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        29.08.2008 02:49
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        There is hope ...

        After having gone through most of the previous reviews i realised that , Indians seem to think the world of their country and tend to over look everything else, whereas foreigne tourists and travelers seem to think otherwise.......I frankly don't blame them,because most travel brochures and their Indian friends give them a glorious account of their country..but when they land here ALAS !!!!!

        Please don't take me as yet another India basher, that too being an Indian...far from it.I love my country no matter what it is but i am a realist, i have no blinkers on.I grumble and curse about the mad system that is prevailing here, the mismanagement, bad roads,...The corrupt Politicians to begin with, most of them look after their personal interests and how their position benefits them...So with that begins all else..

        We have a huge population problem? but China has it too and look how they have turned it to their advantage, so may be India needs a Communist Government or better still Dictatorship...

        Most Politicians and Bureaucrats come up with the same lame excuse when questioned about various disfunctions...."WE are recovering after the British rule, rebuilding the nation from scratch. and it takes time...."

        To me this is the worst kind of an argument because from what i have read and perceived from various sources, When the British left, they left many positive things behind.. namely A good system of Transportation , where most major cities were connected through Roads, Train tracks were laid connecting all major cities and Air ports constructed and put in place in most major cities(No doubt they did it for their own benefit while they ruled here, as they needed those for transporting goods from various parts of India to finally ship it to Britain) which was hugely beneficial, we could work within that frame work and develop it further....

        Secondly they gave us a good system of education for which we have to be eternally thankful.....

        Finally and most importantly they did 2 things at the same time They United and divided India .....India was initially spread all over the south east Asian regions , fragmented into several kingdoms and tribes and villages, there was constant struggle for power between these umpteen rulers and the tribals , which made British realise that they needed to unite India to make it easy for them to rule it successfully, so they set about doing it successfully, and India as a nation has remained united to this day.....

        At the same time during the freedom struggle and at the time of attaining freedom,Circumstances led India to be divided into 2 countries India and Pakistan, and to this day there is unrest because of this one major step taken by them, which could have been prevented......

        That is the past history of India....But when the Britishers left it was with a bond of friendship,Trade understanding , free flow of people across the country etc;and we continued benefiting from all that.....So the BIG question is where did we go wrong?

        The Biggest stumbling block to India has been the Misrule by the various leaders who were elected to rule the country in the initial years after Independence in 1947..., mainly the Nehru Family members who were power hungry and never really did much to take the country further....They became instrumental in spreading corruption in the system, which continues to this day....we still have the family members in the political system practicing the same brand of corruption practiced by their forefathers.....

        India is complete in itself..we have everything here...man power,an abundance of Natural resources, plentiful rains, deserts, some of the largest rivers, oil resources, mineral wealth and a highly educated population....But the problem lies with the system not tapping these resources fully and utilising them in the right manner...

        We have Mega cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkotta, Bengaluru, Chennai ....But most of these cities have no proper infra structure, for which one can only blame the concerned authorities...
        We have some of the most ancient and world renowned tourist spots, which are neglected with little or no facilities provided until a few years ago....there was no tourism authority in most states, it is only now in the past decade with the advent of the net and globalisation that tourism has gained some importance...so things are looking up...

        At the same time Indians are contributing in a big way in most foreign countries especially in the Technological and Medical fields ..
        Right now , inspite of the prevailing corruption, constant terrorist activity and many other problems that India faces, it is still poised for a major growth, this is mainly because of the media playing a major role in voicing peoples concerns and bringing issues to the forefront, the politicians are slowly becoming answerable...

        So there is hope....there are many economists and Global experts predicting a sustained growth rate which will culminate in 2025, when India becomes worlds number one nation.....but now,as things stand today we can only blink!,,,yet at the same time there is no harm in hoping...Aiming for Mount everest one can at least climb the Foot hills....

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          06.07.2003 11:46
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          India is huge country with too much of diversity but most of us do not know to cop up with it. may be that’s the reason many tourist like to move around particular zone other than exploring some great spots within the country. obviously political situation has restricted our movements (especially with family) in and around some of the spectacular sites like those in Kashmir. still there are too many other places to go and explore the richness of this great country. selecting enjoyable destination should not be a problem in india. let me share my opinion. General information- India has great varieties. Land includes mountains, a desert, jungles, huge coastal line and one of the world's rainiest areas. There are broad plains, huge rivers like Ganges and Bhramhaputa, the huge mountain ranges, and tropical lowlands. People of india belong to many different cultural groups and religions so one can see different culture and language in different regions. There is 14 major languages and more than 1,000 minor languages and dialects. Hindi is national language however all major regional languages and English are well recognized. India has twenty eight states and seven union territories. India may be divided in four zones. East - broad plains, huge rivers, mountain and rain forest is the specialty of this zone. international airport is at Kolkata (Calcutta). West - broad plains, mountain, desert, coastline and some cities are the main attraction for the tourist. North - may be describe as foothill of Himalayas and blessed by river Ganges. Kashmir, Switzerland of India, is in north. Delhi, most happening city and capital of India, in also in north. South - south india is triangular peninsula extended into the Indian ocean. bay of Bengal to the east and Arabian sea lies to the west of south India. Coastline is more than 5000 kilometers. There are great islands like Andaman in Bay
          of Bengal and Lakshadweep in Arabian Sea. Climate - Most of India has three seasons: (1) Winter - from October to February/March, (2) Summer - March/April to June, and (3) Monsoon - from July to August/September Transportation - Transportation in India largely depends on railways. Indian Railway is among the largest in the world. Government of India manages the railways and there is a separate ministry for it. Each year, more than 4 billion passengers travel by rail. Other than railways, there is Air and Road transport. Common travelers extensively use tourist taxis, tourist buses and state owned bus services. Because of various reasons water transport is not popular in this country and it is not yet developed. Communication - All Indian cities and many smaller places have telephone service. Cell phone service providers cover most of the cities and highways and these services are still growing. Northeast - I am from Northeast, so let me start from there. I know very few people go there on holidays due to distance from other parts of the country and political unrest. During summer plains of Northeast is not that comfortable due to very humid atmosphere. But its Blue Hills are paradise. I will recommend Arunachal, one of the seven sisters of Northeast. Itanagar is the capital and one can plan trekking from there with the help of local guides. One can also plan day trips to places like Bomdila or Foothills from Tezpur (my home town). You cannot afford to miss Shillong and Kaziranga Sanctuary when you go to Northeast from the other corner of this huge country. You have to go to Gauhati to go to other places in Northeast. One should go to Kamakhya Temple at Gauhati. East India - Darjeeling is one place that cannot be missed out from my list. Darjeeling is best place for Rappelling / Mountaineering. One can go to Siliguri by air, train, and road. From there one can go to Darjeeling by the toy
          train which is a meter gauge train operating over breath taking scenery. Traveling time is about seven and half hours. One can also go by Taxi / Bus and traveling time is about four hours. Hub in the east is Calcutta so I will suggest spending 2/3 days to see this old city so that you can cover places like Belur and Shantiniketan. I have never been to Orissa but there are great places over there. Western India - In Western part of the country my most favorite places are Mahabaleshwar and whole of Goa. Lot of people goes to Matheran or Lonvala for short visit especially from Mumbai and Pune. There is a useful review on Goa in this site - you may go through it if you are interested. One should go to Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan state and known as pink city, and plan for places like Mount Abu and visit to Desert. Mount Abu is a hill station in Rajasthan where people from Gujarat and north go there for various reasons ? a cool hill station very near to the desert. Jain Temple in Mount Abu is very famous. Great beaches in Maharashtra - Murud, Kashid, Harihareswar, Ganpatiphule Great cities in Western India are Bombay (financial capital), Pune (education center), Barodra. North India - I have not seen much of it. Delhi and Agra are the only two familiar places and Mathura to some extent. Once in lifetime, one should go to Agra to see Majestic Taj Mahal. In Delhi there is lot to see and will suggest to read some useful review. South India - Four states are Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andra Pradesh I think south get maximum tourist from all over the world. You get every thing there - a mixture of Old and New Culture, Dazzling Discos to Deep Forest, Sea with fascinating beaches to Bull hill of western Ghats. Great hill stations are Ooty and Kodai kanal. I consider Kovalam, in Kerala, as the best beach in this country. Big cities those deserve
          a visit are Chennai, Cochin, Bangalore (silicon Valley of India), Mysore, Hydrabad. Now all states have tourism departments. I will suggest checking their Internet sites before finalizing your travel plan. May check following sites for more information - http://www.india-travel.com/ http://indiaimage.nic.in/ Enjoy your Holidays

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            04.08.2002 23:42
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            Travelling in India was the hardest experience I had whilst travelling. I spent 5 weeks in India earlier this year and these were my impressions. Not everyone will agree with them I’m sure but they’re not atypical. We arrived in Delhi airport having sensibly pre-booked a hotel. What we didn’t realise is however worldly you are, however aware of scams, you cannot avoid being ripped off in India. If this bothers you (it does bother me) then India really isn’t somewhere you should visit. Once you get into a taxi, it will never take you where you want to go. Indian people will look at you and see dollar signs and so will try elaborate techniques to extract that money from you. A common scam (which we fell for) is saying your hotel is double booked. We naively didn’t realise this was a scam because we were given another hotel free of charge. The scam was this hotel was metres away from a “tourist office” so whenever we looked like leaving, we were delayed by the hoteliers until a representative of the tourist office appeared. Anyway, we eventually escaped the clutches of that office. The problem is being English; I find it difficult to make people appreciate how angry I am with their behaviour. The fact is, you have to lose your temper and be rude to people especially in places like Delhi, Varanasi and Agra, or you’d constantly be on the receiving end. The problem with India is it’s a supremely corrupt country. This starts with the poor man on the street (which you can understand) but goes right up through the police, army and right to government. India wasn’t all bad though. Once you accept the fact that people are going to rip you off (and learn how to minimise it) it gets better. We spent a long time in Rajasthan where we saw beautiful forts and palaces (Jaisalmer is recommended for the former) and 2 wild tigers in Ranthambore. We had a meal with an
            Indian family in their home and saw the Thar Desert, albeit on a very painful camel trek. All in all, India is an experience. I’m not sad that I went, but I wouldn’t recommend it to people, especially not for their first experience of Asia. If you’re determined to go, I suggest going to Rajasthan to visit Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Udiapur in particular, Jodhpur and Jaipur if you have time. I would avoid entering the country through Delhi if you can, or organise an immediate onward flight. I’d also miss out Agra completely. From our hotel roof we could see the Taj Mahal but it’s completely over-rated. Much more breathtaking was the image of hundreds of children flying kites from the flat roofs. My other recommendations concern food. Most of the best food we ate was vegetarian. Try some of the paneer dishes (Indian cheese) and try Aloo Paratha for breakfast. If you travel in Rajasthan, keep a towel out of your luggage for wrapping water bottles in; it’s the desert state in India, which is really saying something. Temperatures exceeded 45 degrees Celsius when we were there.

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              03.08.2002 01:38

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              Going to India is not just a holiday, its an 'experience', especially if you are visiting the villages, where life is a total contrast compared to living in the uk...states, etc. I went to India three years ago. My reason for going was to visit relatives, as my grandfather originates from there. Before i went i was told all sorts of stories and tales which gave me a very negative perspective towards the country. However, i spent only three weeks and had the best holiday ever! We travelled around the villages and stayed in Bombay for a few days. So i experienced both sides, village...and city life. To be honest i prefered the village life....very peaceful, and 'different'. Village life is totally different to my life here in the uk, from the clothes they wear, to the food they eat. One thing i did learn is to appreciate my life, as a compared it to the poverty of the people, and the lack of luxuries, such as washing machines, dishwashers, etc. India is a reccomended holiday, if you want a differnet experince. The currency rate is brilliant so for those who are shopoholics, you will love it!

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              26.09.2001 03:13
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              Last summer I spent three amazing months travelling in India. I met some amazing people, saw some beautiful landscape and made some really close friends. I would recommend visiting India to anyone and here is my advice if you're planning a trip. Some of it is obvious and basic, some of it I wish I was told before I went. I've just realised how long this has turned into. Sorry! I hope it is of some use..:) ~~~ Before you go ~~~ PASSPORT & VISA: Obviously you need a passport. Pick up applications from most Post Offices. You will also need a Visa. To do this you can post off your passport with appropriate information. However, the easiest option is to go to an Indian Embassy in Birmingham or London and queue up to get it done there and then. MONEY: You can not change pounds for rupees in this country due to the instability of the Indian currency. Organise travellers cheques. Take both dollars and pounds, most places accept both, but some don't and you'll need the money. Also it's good to keep an eye on the exchange rate. Sometimes you'll get more rupees for a dollar than a pound. If you're a student you'll get commission free travellers cheques at Natwest (if you have an account with them). JABS: There are some pretty nasty things that you can catch from the flies and mossies. The injections are expensive but worthwhile. Some of the diseases will kill you and you might not always be close to a suitable hospital to get necessary treatment. Malaria tablets should also be taken. I did not, they made my tummy a bit funny, but it is a big risk to take. Some travellers, sensibly, take them religiously. WHAT TO TAKE: It is not necessary to take everything that is suggested in travel books and on the internet. We are living in a globalised world. You can buy anything you need in the cities. Clothes: Take sensible clothes. It is hot, don't take jeans, you wont wear them. Combats are gre
              at. Men and women can wear shorts, you might be stared at, but to be honest you will be stared at anyway. Sarongs are brill and you can buy them for about £1.50 anywhere in India. Take light t-shirts, shirts or vest tops - yes vest tops. Many people tell you not to. Vest tops are fine as long as your boobs aren't falling out. However, it is hot and you might like to cover up to avoid sunburn. Also, if you go into temples or religious places be respectful and cover up. Take sensible footwear. I got a pair of walking sandals from an outdoor store and they were fine for everything. They were easy to take on and off indoors and were comfy and cool for walking around in. Swimming costume is good, if you're going in the sea or showering in a dodgy hotel. Personal Stuff: Wash kit with all it's normal contents, if you run out of anything you can buy it! A useful extra is soap that you don't need water for. You get small bottles of it and it cleans your hands without water. This could be useful if you haven't a decent water supply. Take condoms. If you run out there are durex quality condoms available from pharmacies. Insect repellent, it probably won't work and you'll get fed up of putting it on. The mossies will bite you if they want and there is noting you can do about it. First aid kit, normal stuff including an anti-histamine to stop the bites from itching too much! You can take a sleeping bag liner, some of the beds are not always clean. Again, it's not necessary. Other: Walkman & tapes for long journeys; a fiction book, which you'll be able to swap with other travellers; camera, you'll be able to buy films and batteries cheaper once you're in India; a pack of cards. ~~~ Travel ~~~ HOW TO GET THERE: Fly. Look out for the best deals. Student travel agents are not always the cheapest option even with a special student card. The back pages of the newspapers and the internet are great sources f
              or a bargin. ONCE YOU'RE THERE: Make the most of being in such an amazing country, don't stick to the traditional tourist sites. You'll get ripped off and it will be busy and stressful. Ask other locals and travellers where they've been, they're a great source of info. Internal Flights: Don't bother, by the time you've got to the airport, checked in and flown a train would be almost as quick. It's also the expensive option. Train: This is a great source of travel. You can travel overnight and get bunks to sleep in. There are western and Indian style toilets, which are usually pretty clean, but can get smelly! There is food and water available on the trains and are pretty straight forward. Booking them however - is not! You need to go to a train station, find out when the reservations counter is open, get a reservation slip, fill it in take it back and then eventually pay your ticket. You will be stood in queues and get played around. Some people will try and do it for you. If they do they'll ask you for money afterwards and hassle you. There are guards around the station and they'll generally look after you. Bus: It's a cheaper option than the train. There are two types, coach types and local busses. The coaches have reclining seats and are fairly comfortable. The local busses are basic busses and you are crammed onto the seats with anybody carrying anything..smelly fish, baskets of flowers etc. The roads in India are manic, right of way goes to the biggest car or loudest horn! The journeys are an experience and for upto about 8hrs local busses are fine. Busses stop at roadside cafes for toilet and refreshment. Auto-Rickshaw: An auto-rickshaw is a small yellow and black milkfloat type vehicle. For shorter distances they are great. There is usually a meter and will fit two, maybe three people in the back seat. Someone may, depending on the driver, sit in the front. The roads are
              hectic. We had two crashes in a rickshaw! ~~~ Choosing a Place to Stay ~~~ You will get pushed into making decisions by people at train stations, taxi drivers and locals. They'll get commission from the hotel owners. If you've got loads of money I guess it doesn't matter, but to get the best hotels ask other travellers or check in your guidebook (I recommend Lonely Planet). Types and Prices: You can stay in swanky, overpriced hotels which you will not realise you are staying in a poorer country. It will cost you between £10 and £50 a night. Alternatively you can stay in a hut (which may contain a light, a fan and a couple of mats) on the beach with as many people in as possible for 50 rupees (less than a pound). In Goa you can sleep in hammock (cost about a fiver to buy), just tie it up to the palm trees. In the middle you can rent a basic, clean, possibly en-suite twin room for about £2.50 an night. Don't bother with air conditioning. A fan is adequate and wont wake you up throughout the night making nasty noises. ~~~ Food and Drink ~~~ There is such a variety. Macdonalds to a local Indian restaurant. Try as many different places as possible. Everything is a different experience. Some places will expect tips, others wont. Some places will give you a fork, others will expect you to use your hands. Some will give you a full dinner service and wine glasses, some will give you an banana leaf and a metal cup. The most common local food is a thali which changes from place to place. Usually they contain a portion of rice, different types of curry, yoghurt and bread of some description. They go down really well and are very good value. ~~~ While You're There ~~~ E-MAIL: There's a growing amount of cyber points in India, it costs about a pound an hour. The computers are quite slow, but fine to check and send e-mails. PHONE: You make a call and the time is recorded. You then pay
              the person at the counter. Phones are widely available and the prices are reasonable. The prices change from place to place so ask other travellers the best place to go. POST: You'll need to spend a day if you want to send a parcel home. Letters are fine. The post office will provide stamps and send the letters. For a parcel it needs to be wrapped in white cotton and sewn up, tie string around it, sign a customs form and get it weighed, buy stamps, try and stick them on and send it. Book post is different. The parcels need to be sew up but the post master has to be able to see the ends of the books. Hints: Get the parcel sewn up at any tailors. To stick the stamps there is often a pot of gunk nearby. Sign two customs forms. Smile and don't get irritable - the post officers will make you wait longer! HYGIENE: Toilets: The toilets are holes in the ground which you pour a bucket of water down when you have finished. You can take toilet roll, but it is frowned upon because it blocks the toilets. A lot of hotels do have western style toilets. If you choose not to use toilet roll you may find a jug near the toilet. You pour water over your bottom and wipe away with your left hand (that's why you'll get looks of disgust if you eat with your left hand!). Water: Buy bottled water, it's widely available and costs equivalent of 15p a litre. You could take water purifying tablets but it's unlikely you'll need them. Do check the seals on the bottles because sometimes the bottles are refilled! Laundry: Hand washing is the only way, there are buckets provided everywhere and the clothes dry really quickly. You can buy small sachets of washing powder cheaply from general stores / stalls or pharmacies. Some hotels provide a laundry service. ETTIQUETTE: Don't point cameras in people's faces. It's rude and offensive. Lots of people however will love their photos taken and will push to be in the
              picture. Do not take pictures in temples unless it is ok with the people there. ASK THEM. Take your shoes off when going into temples, homes and most shops. If you're unsure take your shoes off or copy what others are doing. Cover your head in Sikh places of worship and body in all others. Do not eat with your left hand...see toilet comment above! SHOPPING: It is OK to haggle. It is expected and you can get some bargins! They will not sell it to you unless they can afford to. Some shop keepers will love the fact they have westerners and make you tea and tell you about their families. Talk to them and find out about Indian life. It's a great eye opener. BEGGARS: You will find people begging everywhere in India. Some people will try begging because they know that you are rich (in comparison). Try not to give any money as more people will hassle you. You will see all sorts of mutated bodies and it's hard to ignore. Give money if you want, but be aware. If you are hassled there tend to be a lot of police or well dressed people around. They all tend to be pretty helpful. DRUGS: On the whole you will not come in contact with drugs unless you want to. If you want to you can find practically anything you want. Ask other travellers where to get your drugs so that you're not set up. Be discrete. Most hotelliers don't mind you smoking (and might even join you!) but respect them. It's not good for business if you can smell it all down the corridor. It's really easy to enjoy yourself. Do as much as you can but don't get stressed out. Speak to people, travellers and locals, you'll find out some amazing things! If you are sensible it is unlikely anything will go wrong. Three amazing places that I would strongly urge you to see are: Rishikesh in the Himalayas, Palolem in Goa and Kodaikanal in South Indian mountains. They are all so beautiful and you can get directions from any good guidebook. Just remember to h
              ave a great time!!

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                19.08.2001 03:09
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                • "Seeing the poor children."

                I was given the opportunity to visit India a few years ago now and it was one that I just could not miss. My family work on a voluntary basis to support a children's charity over there and we were invited to stay for 3 weeks. I think I had my doubts before even travelling and I knew that it would not be like home but I was in no way prepared for what I actually witnessed. After having all the right jabs, getting my visa and stocking up on medical supplies we were off. Now I think the first thing that lulled me into a false sense of security was the stay in Dubai. Wow!!! It was magnificent! The hotel was like something out of a film set, total luxury. I think at this point I started to think that this trip to India may not be so bad. We then got a flight to Bombay and that is when my trauma started. I call it trauma and I do not wish to sound over dramatic but that is how it felt to see people living in such dire conditions. The airport at Bombay was as I had expected. It was not modern by British standards but served its function well. On leaving the airport I felt like I had walked into another world. The place was swarming with people and all of a sudden I felt very threatened. Everywhere I looked there were children, poor and starving. Some of them came up to me grabbing onto my clothes, begging for money. This caught me totally off guard and I felt desperate for them. Other children were maimed, I will never forget one little boy whose leg was so badly broken that it twisted at 90 degrees. He had to shuffle everywhere on his hands, this image will haunt me for the rest of my life. I later found out that it is often the parents who cause such injuries in order to ensure that the child will earn more money when begging. We got a taxi to our hotel and at each stop there were tiny hands through the windows begging for yet more money. The hotel provided a sanctuary away from this but I was already deeply disturbed by
                what I had seen. The next day we repeated the drama to cross the city in order to catch a flight to Madurai in Southern India. I have never in all my life seen such a knackered aircraft! I still can't believe that I actually got on it. The food served was inedible and the cups were filthy. This was the start of my 3 week fast - where was the Chicken Korma that I had fantasised about? On arriving at the charity's headquarters we were made to feel at home. The children were all orphans and their spirit was inspirational. The staff were also very kind. One of the things that I found very hard to deal with was that they had nothing at all, yet wanted to give you small gifts as a thank you for supporting the charity. We looked around the home and saw the kitchen where our food was to be prepared. It was once again filthy. A huge man without a top on stood, sweating over the bowls of rice and dozens of boiled eggs lay out in the sun with flies dancing over them. The staff were so, so kind. They insisited on cooking me their version of fried eggs and chips believing that was all that English people ate - I had it every morning for breakfast! We also had problems with snakes in our room. At one point we lost a Cobra in there and never did find it! This does not make for the best nights sleep in the world. I am so glad that I went to India as it really has made me appreciate the standard of living that I enjoy. I also met some really lovely people there. Maybe it was that at the time I was not emotionally able to cope with what I saw. I have been invited to visit again but found the culture shock too much. I think that if I had stayed in a hotel it would have been a very different story but I am proud to say that I saw the real India (but I'll not be seeing it again in a hurry!). Thanks for reading.

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                  26.07.2001 12:26
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                  First of all get this: there are a huge number of us in the world today. The population of India is around 1 billion, almost one third of the world population. Now I’m not saying this with pride but with a bowed head. There in lies the root of our multitude of problems. I must also apologize because I find this op rather dry. However this time I have concentrated on giving information rather than entertainment. India has a federal system, a bit like the United States in the sense that we have a central government and a whole lot of states, which have their own state government. There are subjects for legislation by the center and by the states. Our founding fathers took the controversial decision to divide the states along linguistic boundaries. Most of the states have their own language. You might imagine that these are all very similar. Wrong. You might compare this variety with what you would have if the whole of Europe were one nation with each country being a state. Warm but still not quite there. At least most of Europe you have a similar script. Here even the scripts are completely different. With many a European language I can identify which language it is. Besides English, I can read and comprehend a bit of French and identify Spanish, German or Italian. But I cannot even identify many Indian languages. I don’t even know how many languages we have. Then each language has local dialects, which do not have a script of their own. And finally you have languages like Konkani, which is spoken in four states along the west coast but has no single script. In each of the four states a different script is used. For instance in most of Goa (except a small part of its North) this language is written in Portuguese. To a North Indian, all the South Indian languages sound as though you are rattling a tin box with stones inside. The North Indian languages are equally foreign to a South Indian. Even when we speak English each region has a dis
                  tinctive accent. Often the sentence constructs will betray the fact that we think in another language and translate into English as we speak. *************Commercial break*************** On my first visit to the US for an international seminar, I got together with a few other delegates to see the Grand Canyon. There was an Englishman Derek and his wife – a Pole, 2 Norwegians a Swede and me. We traveled by the Interstate Highway from Tucson to Flagstaff. On the way back we decided to do it by a less traveled route. We ended up getting lost and having to ask directions. We stopped at a gas station to fill up and asked for directions. This attendant was very helpful and more so when Derek spoke to him. He was thrilled because he said his granddad had come there from Scotland and ……”I LOVE THAT BRITISH ACCENT.” Was Derek livid with rage after that? He kept a straight face there but as soon as we got out of the place he displayed his entire vocabulary about what he thought of Americans who said that the British had an accent. ************Back after the break************ The education system is normally based on a 3-language formula, English, Hindi (the national language) and the regional language, which is the state language. Obviously this puts a damper on migration while children are still in school. Often, if migration is unavoidable because of a transfer at your job, the man will relocate but leave his family behind so that the children can continue their education in the same state. Unemployment is rampant so one would usually not kick a job to avoid relocating. Again relocation seems to be an option only for the male of the species. For the married ladies it is invariably impractical. Across the country, there is a perceptible variation in race. While the North Indian is distinctively Aryan, South Indians are of the Dravidian race. The Eastern part of the country leans towards Mongo
                  lian features. There is a gradual blurring as you move away from these extremes. Happily there is absolutely no polarization along racial lines. Religion ----------- Hinduism is the religion of 80% of the population while about 12% are Islamic. Several other significant religions, notably Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians (1%), Parsis, Jews, make up the balance. We are by nature a very religious people. It is very common among rich business families to rip off your customers, suppliers, etc. and then give alms to beggars outside your place of worship. You get the drift. Sin all you want, salvation awaits you at the temple gate. Given our religious disposition, there is surprisingly a remarkable degree of religious tolerance. This is probably due to traditional Hindu polytheism. It is not uncommon for Hindus to attend novenas to the Blessed Virgin Mary or a go to the precincts of a mosque in search of miracles. The recent surge in religious fundamentalism has political roots. In the hearts of the people there is no real religious divide. Lifestyle ----------- The urban lifestyle is very westernized while the rural people are more traditional. In the city we usually have nuclear families. However there are still many joint families in the city too. To some extent you are not completely free to choose. If the woman is career minded, a couple may prefer to stay at the husband’s parents’ place to ensure the grandparents look after their children. Another common problem is the cost of housing in a city like Bombay. You may not be able to afford to stay independently. On the subject of housing let me restrict myself to Bombay. Middle class and above housing is usually in apartment blocks. These are called flats. Most people have one or two bedroom flats. More than two bedrooms is not common. Lower middle class live in “chawls”, which are structures with several housing units. Each unit has just one room a
                  nd a kitchen with a little wash area, which is often curtained off and used for bathing. Toilets are shared by several families. Still poorer folk live in slums. Sometimes the contrast is palpable when you have posh skyscraper complexes cheek-by-jowl with slums in the same area. ********This Story illustrates our attitude******** An aging Indian master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. "How does it taste?" the master asked. "Horrible," spat the apprentice. The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water. The old man said, "Now drink from the lake." As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the master asked, "How does it taste?" "Fresh," remarked the apprentice. "Do you taste the salt?" asked the master. "No," said the young man. At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and taking his hands, said, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake." So learn to expand your horizons and things will look different... ***********Back after the break************ In the cities there is a growing attitude of isolation. In the villages, people are friendly. Hospitality has religious sanction. When you are offered a snack or a drink, you must customarily make a litt
                  le fuss and finally accept what you are offered. I know that in the UK or elsewhere in the west, if I am offered a drink and I hesitate, the offer will not be repeated. In India, if you say no, it only means “I am saying NO to prove I am not a glutton but will have it when you insist.” Children stay with their parents well into their twenties and, as explained above, often ever after. We become economically independent very late as compared to you. Parents are given a great deal of respect. Morals are quite different from the west. Sex is never spoken about openly except as a joke or within a close, single sex peer group. Pre-marital and extra-marital sex is relatively uncommon and always very discrete. Live in relationships are almost unheard of. To an extent our society may tolerate these things by a male but a female would be tarred for life. She will find it virtually impossible to marry. Most marriages last a lifetime. Divorce is rare. Children feel very secure. Violent crimes by juveniles are rare. These are the reasons why a lot of Indians will rough it out in India rather than migrate. Many who do migrate to work return before their children have had a chance “to get spoilt.” As mentioned earlier, there is a greater western orientation in the cities today. The McDonalds and Coke and designer label culture has caught up with us. McD is also far too expensive and zilch value for money. A wholesome, tasty Indian meal for a family of four in a decent restaurant with table service will cost you less than snacking junk food at McDonalds. Yet the concept of status draws us to McD like bees to honey. Status -------- This seems to me a very Indian invention. Or did we acquire it from the Brits? We are very conscious of status. Office clerks think they are above the factory worker who has to get his hands dirty. It is immaterial that the plant engineer with grease on his hands is more educated and better paid
                  than the clerk sitting in the air-conditioned office. Family status is also very important. Many children pursue higher education of their parents’ choice. It doesn’t matter what their aptitude or liking is. Caste is another important criterion for status. There is also a vast disparity in wages. For example a machine operator working in a small workshop could be earning less than a fifth of someone doing a similar job and probably less work hours in a well-known company. Likewise, there is huge wage disparity between different types of work. The level of education also determines the status. People with vocational training in fields like automobile or air-conditioner mechanics have a lower perceived status than a university graduate, although the vocational guy may land a job easily while the univ guy is languishing without one. Sports -------- India and sports? Our greatest sportsmen are the armchair variety who can dish out expert comments analyzing reasons when India loses at any game. For a country of 1 billion not to produce even one world beater is ridiculous. We armchair experts often put it down to the lack of killer instinct. Trite explanation. Turns a weakness into a virtue. But we have great thinkers who can make us champions. When we found we couldn’t win gold at the Olympics, we invented the Asian games. At first we won a lot. Then China, Japan and Korea went far ahead. Finally we ended up winning very few medals. So what’s the solution? We invent the SAF(South Asian Federation) games. Ah! Now we can win all those medals competing against Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. What happens when they overtake us? Lets wait and see. We’ll find some tiny islands with a population of hundred whom we can beat and compete against them. Quality --------- Some years ago I attended a seminar on quality conducted by TMI of Denmark. By way of example they took the case of European cars. They stated that
                  German cars are far ahead of British cars as far as quality perception goes. This, they explained, is because Germans demand quality in everything. The British are satisfied with poorer quality. What Claus Moller of TMI said that day is far truer of India than of Britain. Maybe he didn’t want to offend a 100% Indian audience. But it is true the quality of products here is appalling. Often a manufacturer advertises his product as export quality. What he is implying is that his product is too good to be sold locally yet he is doing us a favour. With our economy having opened out for global competition these last few years, things are getting better. We have increasingly started demanding quality. Time will separate the men from the boys. The strong will survive and prosper, the weak will fall by the wayside.

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                    16.07.2001 12:16

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                    India - the land holds mystique and charm and provides the traveller with something new and enchanting everytime he sees it. It is here that traditionalism subtly blends with modernity like the horizon where the sky seems to meet the earth.Whenever a satellite is launched(a sign of technological breakthrough and modernity) , it is preceded by a coconut breaking ceremony(which is a sign of traditionalism). The palaces and grandeur coupled with the poverty and rustic charm present a dichotomy of the unending realms of life .The traveller finds the blue waters of the seas and the masterpiece in architecture everywhere, but he cannot find these and their juxtaposition with life at such close quarters and that is what makes India a destination that would change ones experiences on earth.

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                    09.07.2001 23:04
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                    There were markets everywhere.Traffic,both ancient and modern,filled the city streets and through the dust and fumes beautiful women dressed in lovely silk saris flitted as gracefully as butterflies. We were in Chanai once known as Madras,at the begining of our tour of south India. Chanai has a fantastic cathedral dedicated to the apostile St Thomas,the 13th century Shiva temple of Kapaleeshwara with it's impressive collection of Chola bronzes. Driving on we pasted beautiful villages of rough thatched houses,past rice fields and emense lakes of waterlillies,through towns where sacred cows and goats wander free. Once deep in the counry side we stopped to admire the magnificent hand carved rocks of Arjunas Penance Ratha which is a masterpiece in ancient symbolic carving. We stayed in the Maharaja's Palace at Mysore. The accomidation and food were amazing and the lovely bath was much appreciated. Next day we were back on the road when we noticed that the area we drove through seemed amazing English,there were haystacks and farmyards even though they were built on boulders still very English and bizarre. We eventually reached Nagerhole National Park,a haven of peace,where monkeys played in the trees,deer hid in the shadows and tiny owls perched.Occasionally we saw elephants and bison steering a wide berth. Next day we sailed up the Kabini river so early the birds had'nt yet woken and as the mist started to rise we found dry land,we climbed through cotton fields and sugar and tea plantations to the blue nilgris hills at 7500 ft above sea level it was a bit cold but beautiful. We continued crossing through great villages with awesome scenery and finally got to Madurai,2500 year old seat to the pandyan kings and still an important city of learning. Pilgrims flock to the Sri Meenakshi temple,it's 11 intricate,painted towers soaring above the clouds. We took part in the s
                    ons of shiva festival which made a nice fitting end to our indian odyssey. India is beautiful and whether thinking of a year gap hiking or luxury stay's i advise all to give it a go it's a life altering experience.

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                      07.07.2001 02:40
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                      It was 1998 when I went to India, and I honestly have to say it was the best eye opening experience of my lie. It is just an excellent place to visit, some the scenes are just breath-taking. It was an organised tour 14 days and cost us £500-00 for air-flight and an extra £130 or board which included meals. We did take some spending money and our money exchanged for rupees, with the pound being strong we got a good price, and we had quite a lot o spending money. The places we visited were the Taj Mahl to Bombay itself. What I learnt really quickly that there were two countries in this world. One was the poor areas, the inner slums and the other was the luxurious five star treatment available if you had the money. I think we were somewhere in between. Seeing the sun rise in the morning was really something. However, remember to take some sun cream with you as it can get very hot and at mid day at times unbearable. The people are friendly and are willing to help you, camel rides, horse and carriage are good ways of transport although it can be a bit bumpy in some places. The open markets were excellent places to shop, you could haggle your price down and the items were so cheap. You could eat out at restaurants and have very good meal for about 300-400 rupees which is about £3-4 and so it was exceptional value. But, a word of caution don't try everything, some things are just to hot and will leave you with diarrhoea, make sure you take some diarrhoea tablets with you. There's always a chance with the hot climate you could be struck down. Overall, I really recommend India to anyone, tourists are welcomed with open arms, there's a lot to see and a lot to embrace. Different cultures, foods and you will find some excellent gifts to bring back for friends and families. The good thing is that unlike holidays to Ibiza etc the memories stay with you much longer, you really come back a b
                      etter person. And if you do come back it will take you a few weeks to get back into routine. A truly marvellous experience.

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                        19.06.2001 15:51
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                        India the home lands for me. I love visiting India on regular basics and enjoy the time spent there. I live in heart of India Mumbai Central. From where I live I can see the train station and their four way to get out of the central. One way will take you to ground road which is main street for shopping and getting grocery. The other way takes you to hagaly where you see a great prophet who lies in the middle of the sea. You are only able to visit the temple when the tide is down. Also they’re a shopping centre nearby like the one with have here but the prices for goods are very high. 18 pounds for a copy of an Indian film 1500 Rupees. In Mumbai they’re a lot of think to do such chor bazaar which is a market place where they sell fake clothes. I did have the chance to check out many restaurants as I went with a group of friends; we went to many posh places, as the currency difference was not much when we work it out in pounds. We also saw some of our local eating places Mc Donald’s Domino Pizza and Baskin and robin. Some times it helps to see some friendly places do you don’t feel so hope sick. India is becoming more and more modern and you would enjoy your stay. Go visit India yourselves and let me know on what you think.

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                          21.04.2001 20:21
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                          “Gods own Country” The biggest democracy in the world how can you describe in few words, it is not possible. Though I am not here to give geography lesson on India to anyone but I am sharing my nostalgia with everyone. Indian Nostalgia… Travellers around the world have always not looked for vacation but something more than that. Describing India in this small space will be difficult because the nostalgia is such that countless river and countless space and the long peninsula of area makes it one of the sought after destination by most of the traveller. When you come to India, you ask for Architectural Diversification, beaches, wild-life, hill stations, water rafting, deserts safaris, backwater cruises, I can go on. History has shown that India has been in the eye of each and every king, right from Alexander the Great to Moghuls. Rulers from all over the world wanted this country and right from Portuguese, French and Finally English who liked it so much that they ruled this country for some time and left this place in the year 1947. A single description of India would be difficult because it is so diverse. We have the Himalaya guarding us in the North, Indian Ocean in the South, Bay of Bengal in the East and Arabian Sea in the West. Some Facts for eyes… India is the 7th largest Country in the world as far as area is concerned and the 2nd most populated country in the world. Having 25states with more than10 different languages how much diversity India has no once can compare this. Games People Play People in India are known to be the most warm and friendly. Here language is never a problem. India is the 3rd country in the world were maximum people speak the Universal Language English. Its not like France or Germany, were you have struggle if you don’t know French or German. But the common language found is Hindi. India grows on you. Wh
                          ether it is the hopeful grin of the fellow trying to sell you a perfectly useless whatever or the bored yawn of the municipal officer or the gleaming eyes of street performers. After a few days, you will learn to love them - for in no place in the world will you be treated with the kind of warmth that you will in India. It will probably take you about ten days to get used to India but it will take you a lot more than that to bring yourself to heading back home. Nowhere else in the world would you have your local cigarette vendor or taxi driver eagerly discuss philosophies of life with you at the slightest provocation and perhaps even invite you over for a humble Daal - Rice with his family. Here in India, you have to keep reassuring yourself that it’s all really happening. You will revel in disbelief as you cruise through the mystic land. You will be overwhelmed over and over again. Once in a way, you will tend to think it isn’t all that much fun after all. Just then, India displays its uncanny ability to creep up behind you. Watch out! Desert to Snow …Natural Jungle to Concrete Jungle Yes in India, you can feel the extensive heat in a desert or get chilling cool at the Himalays. Ride a camel in the Runn of Kutch or ride a camel near the beaches. Get the nostalgic view at Leh or feel the pleasant silence at the Himalays. Feel the natural jungle at the Nilgiri or meet the Royal Bengal Tiger or get swamped 365 days in Rain in Assam. In India’s concrete jungle, Mumbai, its slow and steady loose the race. Mumbai is a city were it never sleeps, round the clock you can see people buzzing and moving all over the place. Whether it is nightlife in the discs and pubs in Mumbai or the pleasant and warmth atmosphere in the Indian villages, where a million dollar smile will always invite you. Moving all over … Indian railway is the biggest public sector transport corporation in th
                          e world with more than lacs of employ ready to service you round the clock. Whether you have the Central Railway, Southern railway, Northern railway, or the Western Railway, they are there to service you and take you to even the remotest of the village or city. Indian roads are in someplace as soft as village but it has got the reach, which is more important. The best way to go around India is by railways, you can see the villages and the different people who waiting and want to serve a person. Festive Season Though, there was a joke that in India what ever happen we will have a holiday because with such diverse religion and diverse culture you bound to have festival every alternative day. No doubt we have more than 36000 Gods to worship. You can be sure that every alternative day some of your friend or colleague will bring Sweets because he must be having his festival. But in India everyone enjoys it together. You can be assured that Indians have sweet tooth. Music for ears … India’s classical music is said to be the source of many kinds of music whether you talk about Jazz or any instrument, sa re ga ma… has always been the inspiration even for the music greats. India’s different form of dance whether you take Bharatnatyam or odissi or kuchipudi, it creates a great melancholy in the environment around you. India’s film industry is again one of the biggest film industries with more than 500 films being made every year in different languages. Back waters… Overall take the backwaters of Kerala or the traffic laden capital, Delhi, India is one country every one who have not visited need to be here. When I am ending this review, I still feel that I have not spoken many things. Poem dedicated to India… “ Life comes close and comes to standstill… When I get into the aura of thinking of the Benga
                          l in the East… But it gives me courage when I look at vastness… Which takes it all the way down to the Indian Ocean in the South… I feel the power and the Ecstasy of the Night… When I get going and see the ships moving to the Arabian Sea in the West… I come close to home and feel the closeness… When I go up all the way to the North and see Himalaya Standing Guard… When I look at North, East , West & South Touching each other somewhere or the other than I feel that I have come to India…

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                            23.02.2001 15:30
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                            I visisted India 3 years ago to work with the Missionaries of Charity (The religious order founded by Mother Teresa). The 4 months I spent working with them in the leprosy centre and childrens home were the best months of my life. The missionaries of Charity own nothing themselves, yet they are among the happiest people I have ever met. They genuinly love and care for all the people in their centres, and do their best to provide services for the local community too. In Jyotinagar we had almost 2000 leprosy patients with 50 children under the age of 14, all under the care of 10 nuns. Ok so the nuns did not do all the work themselves, obviously, they had help from the local women, all of whom have had need of the centre at some time. The sisters run a school for the local children who would otherwise not get even the most rudimentary education, they run a dispensary, for all the drugs the local people need but can't afford, they have a large farm, worked by the local community, for the local community. They run entirely on the charity of people either in India or overseas, and their ability to pay their workers and buy food to supplement their rice and dahl diet fluctuates with the generosity of others. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the sisters, and this experience has given me an understanding of the true meaning of poverty. Poverty in this country, although it is bad(I should know, I am a single parent student), it is nothing compared to the poverty in India. The sisters, and brothers, of the Missionaries of charity work in this poverty every day, with never a thought for their own welfare, only for the welfare of those in their care. I can't think of a better description of an angel than simply, an angel is a Missionary of Charity.

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                            "The Republic of India (Hindi: भारत गणराज्य Bhārat Gaṇarājya), commonly known as India, is a sovereign country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous liberal democracy in the world. India borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. Home to the Indus Valley civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped India's variegated culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by Great Britain from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation-state in 1947 after a struggle for independence marked by widespread use of nonviolent resistance as a means of social protest."