24 July 2012

The trip of my life: Guestblogger #2 Oh you pretty things

Next on the guestblogging is Michelle from Oh you pretty things. I discovered Michelle's fine blog when I was living in Berlin - she was also a Dane living there, and we followed each other the last few weeks in the city before we both returned in July. Michelle lives in Aarhus and tells about her trips to London and Berlin, her beautiful dresses and tips for Aarhus, that will come in very handy when I move back in September. Today, she's taking us to India:
So, I was asked to write about my life's biggest journey. At first I thought about stretching the concept a little bit, writing something introvert-ish à la 'when I moved away from my parents' or 'when I moved to a new country where I didn't speak the language'. But then - naah - let's have some true escapism; a travel as one understands it first and foremost: something with a long planeride, something with going out of the airport getting struck by the very different air, the smells, the sounds. And I realized that when I have funny stories to tell, a lot of them are set in India.
You see, Jonas and I decided to go on our first summer holiday together in 2010 - and for some reason all the countries we wanted to visit started with an I; Italy, Iceland, India. We took a quick gaze at momondo.com and found some dead cheap plane tickets to New Dehli - 2400 kr - return! Done deal and booked!
There are so many first times on that trip, and when I think about it, I get a lot of different flashbacks. I'd like to share some of them with you. So here it goes:
Flashback 1: We got picked up at the airport at 3am. The air was humid, it was dead hot and we were tired from the long plane trip. We had booked a pick up at the airport, and our driver had the smallest car in the world where me, my boyfriend and a Dutch girl squeezed in together with our huge backpacks. The driver drove fast and wild and honked all the time (we later discovered that he was actually driving really nice and calm compared to the rest of India).
We drove up and down broad roads with huge houses and palm trees, and it seemed to be a quiet night. Our driver then took a sharp left turn, the road turned into a bumpy and dusty gravel road, the houses were torn to pieces with cables hanging out of them, there were cars everywhere and in the middle of the road (and this is seriously not an exaggeration) was a big pile of sleeping people. The driver pulled the handbrake and said: 'this is your hotel'.
Flashback 2: The first time we ordered a thali and had to eat it with our hands.
Flashback 3: I had a romantic (and stupid and naïve) dream of taking a camel safari into the Rajastani desert. So we ordered two camels with guides and off we went into the desert. It was really cheap - too cheap, actually. The camels were annoyed by the flies, and my camel ran off in a crazy gallop with me on top, and since it had no stirrup or saddle, I bounced up and down and slid down to the side of the camel while my guide was shouting: 'hold on madam, don't bounce!' My boyfriend's camel was crazy and threw itself on the ground several times while Jonas was still sitting on it. I got several injuries and scars from that camel safari...
We were promised 'a breathtaking night in the desert'. We had to sleep on a well cover made of concrete with the blankets that had covered the camels. So they smelled pretty much of camel. It was black as hell, and during the night a bunch of wild dogs came and snarled and growled, and we only had some reed to defend ourselves with. But the sunset was amazing.
Flashback 4: In Varanassi, the Hindus come to the Ganges to get their ashes spread in the river. Hereby they hope to be released from reincarnation and never be reborn again. We met a guy who had seen a dead baby floating in the river (pregnant women, priests, people bitten by snakes and infants are not allowed to be burned - they are just dumped into the river). On every staircase leading down to the river, you could see bonfires burning dead people. If people cannot afford enough wood for the bonfire, and some of the corpses aren't burned completely, they just throw them in the 'Mother Ganga' half burned. We saw some ribs while we were walking past the river. People wash themselves and their clothes in the Ganges as well as use it as the main transportation system.
Just outside our hotel room was an electrical bonfire where the poor people who couldn't afford wood for burning could burn their beloved ones... One night, the electricity shot down, killing our fan. It was dead hot, dogs were barking outside the window, we could hear monkeys, people chanting, the bonfire was burning a person... I will never forget the smell of dead, burned human flesh. I've never been in a place where death and life has such a major impact and influence before. Varanassi it the most beautiful place I have ever visited.
Flashback 5: Taj Mahal. It's prettier and more majestic than the postcards show. And holy cow it's beautiful!
Flashback 6: The heat and the naughty naughty walls of the temple of Khajuraho. Tantra really takes it to the next level... Here we had breakfast in a tree.
Flashback 7: The toilets. Yf!
India is insane. It's wild and untamed. There are so many different smells; it's a mixture between cows, cow shit, monkeys, spices, incense, smog. The sounds are overwhelming; cars honking, bikes jingling, children pulling your arm shouting 'madam madam' or 'hello sir', beggars begging, Bollywood music from loud speakers, people shouting, people wanting to sell you stuff. India is insane. And I want to go back.

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