My time in Mumbai has taught me so much already, but today I learnt an important truth - that travel isn’t always pretty, comfortable or tied up in neat little package. Mumbai has challenged me, at times broken my heart but then lifted me back up again.
The very first task that ATMA asked me to complete was a personality test. I did so. I received ‘The Idealist.’ I’ve been accused of being an idealist for as long as I can remember and have always considered the label of ‘idealist’ to be somewhat of an insult and not something to particularly nurture. However, this has started to change during my time in India.
Yesterday was our last day in Dharamsala. Most of us have agreed that it was our favourite place so far- a beautiful sprawling village beneath the Himalayas that saw gorgeous warm sunshine during the day and chilly temperatures at night. The snow capped mountains in the distance were a breathtaking backdrop to the faded but vibrantly coloured buildings scattered across the cliffs.
The moment our taxis started struggling up the steep climb to Dharamsala I felt my pollution beaten body being rejuvenated. One deep breath in, one deep breath out and the sweet mountain air began to detox any remnants of Delhi and Amritsar from my lungs. Don’t get me wrong I loved the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi and the institutions we had the privilege to visit, but sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to fully appreciate the unique qualities of each city.
After feeling the toll from train rides, crazy traffic and being dragged into numerous photos with locals in Delhi, I found Amritsar to be a welcome change. Exhausted from the late night train arrival the night before, we woke to a classic Indian “continental” breakfast; stale cornflakes, toast with questionable butter, a banana and chai.
In one day in Delhi it is possible, and almost inevitable, to feel and experience a multitude of emotions. The first adventure of the day is always crawling through the noise-polluted traffic. The road signs indicate to stay in your lane, but it seems that Indians have figured out a more unique way to navigate the roads by honking and hoping that the oncoming traffic gets out of the way!
“Welcome to Incredible India!” my colleague exclaims, as we exit Delhi airport approaching a taxi that has certainly seen better days. Like many Australians, I have travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia. India, however, is a whole new experience. So when Erin Lynn, Founder of Generate Worldwide, approached me with the idea of running a study tour together some six months ago, I jumped at the opportunity.
I wrote this blog post more than two years ago, not long after I landed in New Delhi for the first time and I had just started working as an intern with UN ESCAP. Since that time, my perception and opinion of Delhi has changed, but in many ways it has remained the same. With just four short weeks to go until the next group of students arrive in New Delhi under my guidance, I thought it was appropriate to share what my initial reaction was to what I consider to be one of the most incredible (and underrated) cities on the planet. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reminiscing.