India: The amazing country, so different from Europe
When planning our trip to India, we realized that we have completely changed our perception about the country. Primarily, though we understand India as a country, it would be appropriate to present the country as a continent.Specifically, it has the population larger than Europe and Australia together. Looking at the size of India, however, is not so great, but still - a huge, much bigger than, for example, Germany or France. India is actually a set of countries that are essentially different. And that every country has its own story, its history and customs. To really tour all what India has to offer to tourists, you should find at least half a year, and had to go fifty thousand kilometers. Therefore, most of the agencies in the two weeks tour offer only capital Delhi, the former capital of Agra with Taj Mahal and Rajasthan state capital of Jaipur. And it is only a very, very small triangle on the map of India. We were slightly more ambitious, so we moved independently from Bombay (which was renamed Mumbai Indians) to about a thousand kilometers away in the village temples Kajuraho and five hundred miles away to the holy city of Varanasi on the River Ganges. Then we visited the Triangle Delhi-Agra-Jaipur and a few cities in Rajasthan, and than returned to Bombay with a plane.
Taj Mahal, a brilliant work of architecture
The most beautiful thing we have seen in India was unsurpassed Taj Mahal. This wonder of the world may not be in its antiquity and historical role competitive with many other buildings in the world, but what is unsurpassed is its amazing beauty. It is a brilliant work of architecture, with a extremely successful artistic idea. Unlike many other similar facilities in India, the Taj Mahal is not particularly flashy, it has only discrete patterns carved in white marble. The perfect harmony of form and complete symmetry are only half of the whole experience, with a missing - background. Ingenious architect used the slope of the soil to the river behind the Taj Mahal and not added any building in the background, so the magnificent work of human hands perfectly merged with the blue sky. This whole world is indeed a miracle. And the story about the Taj Mahal is interesting. In romantic and the short version is like a fairy tale: exceedingly sorrowful husband had to build a magnificent tomb for his wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child. The story, however, does not mention the hundreds of concubines and the harshness of the time, but is still very romantic. In India it is definitely worth it to go to Varanasi, the holy city of Hindus in the Ganges River. That city, shows the true splendor and misery of India - from high-religious spirituality and self-discipline in relation to the secularized West all the way to the dirt, extreme material poverty and incredibly polluted River Ganges, which is at the level of the entire sewage. Upstream, in fact, hundreds of millions of people and the problem of overcrowding is the harsh reality of India. And the incredible temples and Kajurahoa. Dozens of temples survived over a thousand years in the rule of Muslims because they remained forgotten in the midst of the jungle. Today, they are a first-class world cultural heritage objects of incredible beauty. A Kajurahoa temples are famous for another reason - erotic sculptures. And while we Europeans are accustomed to the sublime atmosphere in our churches, temples here offer sculptures that would characterize as pornography. And no one knows for sure why the temples were built in the jungle, or why they contain erotic sculptures. One of the simplest explanations is that in the former civilization sex was treated as an integral part of life in the community, and it is displayed that way. But in India, the most interesting things are buildings, with huge social differences compared to Europe. When you are traveling through Europe there are differences between people, but it is still much more common. And the Indians have seen that their profound cultural foundation substantially different, and that these people are fundamentally different in thinking and feeling from us. Since division by caste to fanatical desire for numerous offspring - India is just something else. And so from hour to your journey through this strange country offers a new and more surprises. And it will be a wonderful and unforgettable experience, but only if you do one thing - nothing here should not be taken too seriously and to heart. I never look at the clock. And if you`re too pedantic European or simply do not have nerves, then travel to India through some of the agency. Such arrangements protect Westerners in India from disorganization, poor standards of accommodation and food, as well as from all kinds of whims of local people and small tricks that can make you crazy. But, on the other hand, India`s tour is not about the buildings and traveling under a glass bell, but it is about the people and their customs, which are so different. So if you think you`ll go crazy when you see how the head, arms and legs stand out from the insanely crowded buses, or as traffic cop beats cyclists on the back with a stick to hurry, or if your clerk prints ordinary train ticket for more than an hour - stay home.
Driving a taxi in India
Another travel books from the region:Travelogue Cambodia
Travelogue China 1
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Travelogue China 5
In Indian cities, there is rarely a public transport. So when you need transportation on the street, nothing easier: stop one of the countless rickshaws, carts actually mounted on the bike, pay one dollar and your biker-driver will break down for miles that will take them where they need to. If you want luxurious transportation, paying about four amount of rate and the same way you drive the car jinricksha, or some kind of small motor tricycles. And if you want to transfer "de lux", then for a few dollars you take a taxi, which is regularly ancient but elegant bucket brand ambassador. Whatever you choose you will get a happy driver and will be greeted with the inevitable question, "Where are you from, sir? Which country, sir?". At the wheel driver will probably have drawn a swastika. And if you tell him what the sign means to the Europeans, the taxi driver will respond with a laugh that it was to him a sign of good luck. Next will always be pictures or figurines of fat little man sitting with a head of - an elephant. The taxi driver will tell you with a lot of respect that this is Ganesh, one of the gods, to whom most Indians pray. And how drivers drive auto-rickshaw or a "real" taxi - it`s impossible to describe. At first we thought it was a suicide run without any order, but later we still started noticing driving rules completely different from those in Europe. Championship is still stronger and there is no downtime at a stop sign or in the crosswalk. Pedestrians, as the weakest one, will not fit anywhere, even at the cost of the run down. No one has a mirror, so when someone overtakes he constantly plays horn. One taxi driver explained that the Indian driver sanctities good horn, good brakes and - happiness ("Good horn, good breaks and good luck"). This means that Indian drivers are constantly annoying horns, and trumpets sound that you usually hear in the country. "Ordinary" in Indian cab ride even after all this ceases to amaze. In fact, you can consider yourself lucky if a taxi driver drove you to the place where you wanted. The local drivers are very free to interpret where you actually want to go and take you, for example, in the hotel where they have agreed commission to the owner if you are staying. So when you are driving in the middle of the night in dark neighborhoods in the opposite direction from where you have reserved a hotel, when you disembark in front of a dump that obscure driver called the hotel, and when you find yourself among the sleeping cows and dogs on the eerily empty streets of unknown city, dont be affraid. It`s not kidnapping or deception, it is only a way for a driver in India to earn himself for life.