***FOREWARNING*** This blog post solely serves as one man’s insight into his travels in India. I write this with a sense of humility, love, and honesty, and by no means do I intend any disrespect but only creative illustration.
The Golden Triangle [New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur] is the most popular route for those traveling to India, and this is what my family and I are currently partaking within a two-week time frame. If I have to explain my experience with only one word, I would choose “intense.” An aggressive assault on the senses, I find there to be an overwhelming amount of stimulation. Respectfully, the culture is very “touchy-feely,” there are strong smells of spices and body odor, the clothing is made up of bold and beautiful colors, the traffic is loud AF, and the onions and curry make my taste buds explode with enticement.
New Delhi’s India Gate and the Sikh temples piqued my interest, to say the least. There was a man with a worn turban and a straw basket below the monumental archway. As he lifted the basket lid, I expected to see puffy idly or buttery naan. But when he started to play his flute, a cobra slowly elevated and entertained the crowd. When we went to visit the Sikh temple, I made sure to wash my feet and cover my head as to show respect before entering into the prayer room. I was immediately intimidated yet intrigued by the gravity of the guardsmen and their shiny armory.
Agra is a city of monuments, although the locals call it the “City of Love.” The Taj Mahal stands strong by the river, symbolizing the love that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan expressed toward his wife upon her death. Photos do not do it justice, and as I first walked toward the beautiful site it felt as if I were walking into a story book. The love and intimate connection I see within the relationships among the locals exemplify the reputation of this city and Indian culture as a whole.
Tomorrow, we will travel to the Pink City, known as Jaipur. I look forward to another part of the world I have yet to experience.
I must mention, however, that the manipulativeness of certain locals toward foreigners is most unpleasing. We had plans to go to specific places, and were deterred by lies that those places were closed. I get it– those who took us to their recommended stores (instead of where we wanted to go to) got commission upon our purchases. But it took a while for us to learn of this sales tactic, and we felt cheated. It’s true, “you live and you learn!”
Speaking of aggressive sales tactics, I think a lot of it has to do with the severe poverty in certain areas. And when I say “severe,” I mean heart-wrenching in that when I look at a sun-beaten mother’s face asking for Rs. 100 ( = 1.52 USD) because her child is dying of hunger, it makes me want to vomit from sadness and pain. It makes me want to give everything I have, and trivializes my own problems.
I learn so much from my experience traveling, and I have only my family and my modeling career to thank for opening those doors and giving me the opportunity to see the world.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it. More to come!