Clueless Boy travels to India (Part 1)

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At the time I was 15 years old and I've only visited a few european countries so far and Japan was the only country I've been to outside of Europe. I absolutely have no idea why my father came up with India, but I agreed on it. What could possibly go wrong? Well a lot. Here is the story:

Preparation

Just a little bit of background. Both of my parents have traveled a lot, my father owns a travel agency and went up to 60 countries on different tours they organized. He went to India before and knew what to expect, so did my mother who went to Kolkata alone when she was young, as well as other countries like Syria or Soviet Union during the Cold War so she has some guts. As a completely clueless inexperienced boy I was, I just naturally trusted my parents on everything. I didn't even know how India looked like, if I can get food there or if I have to be afraid of cobras.

My father was working abroad so the plan was to meet in Delhi, which meant flying alone and finding him at the airport (my mother didn't come). The flying part was not the problem, but as dumb as I was back then, I didn't think of what would happen, if I didn't find him. I didn't bring any money with me and my father booked the hotels for me so I wouldn't even know where to go. (Which I should've known, because of immigration purposes) I wonder how but everything went as planned.

The Beginning of the Journey...

On the way to the hotel in the taxi, I already had my first culture shock. There was a traffic jam on the highway, not because there was an accident or something, but because a group of poor people stopped the traffic to knock on taxis with tourists to beg for some money. When we got closer to the hotel, a kid tried to steal some cash money from our taxi driver through the open window, but his mother stopped him doing that. I knew it's not a wealthy country, but seeing that with my own eyes was just unbelievable.

We left the taxi and this was my first impression about India. I really liked the way this street looked like. So many signs but none of them was from our hotel we were looking for. We struggled a lot trying to find it and seeked for some help by the locals. They were very friendly and they called the hotel for us. Turns out that there was no sign at all and was hidden in a small building on the top floor.

The hotel had a really nice view and I really loved it. Had a nice conversation with the employee and it was the first moment I could finally feel some relaxation. (Especially after hearing constant honking noises in the city) She gave us 2 bottles of water, but we were a bit hesitant to drink. I remembered my mother telling me, that she had a refilled bottle at the hotel, so I should always look closely, if it was already opened once or not. It didn't look like it and after politely asking if it is safe to drink, we could finally drink some water.

The day was already long and it was finally time to eat some lunch. All I knew about indian cuisine was Curry and Samosa, but this was something new for me. It is called Dosa, a south indian dish with fillings inside wrapped around in a pancake. In my case it was spiced potatoes, which tasted really good. As you can see, it is served with many different sauces and I asked myself, how am I supposed to use all that sauce. I hate wasting food so after finishing my Dosa, I just ate the rest of the sauces.

For the rest of the day, we spent hours in a train ticket office to buy some tickets to Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. So we didn't do much, except for visiting the stunning Mosque of Jama Masjid.

On the way to Taj Mahal

The train leaves at 6am so yesterday, we ordered a taxi for 5am. We were waiting but noone showed up. We had no other choice than waiting for the taxi. Well it came eventually... but 20 minutes too late. We planned to get to the train station quite early so shouldn't be a problem despite the delay. But then... when we got there, I realized he took us to the wrong train station! With full speed, he drove us to the correct train station and we just made it. Even had time to take this picture.

We arrived in Agra and rented a taxi for 8 hours. Our driver was very friendly and calls himself Mr. Bomb. He took us to the Taj Mahal first where we struggled to find a locker for our backpacks. It took us almost an hour to do so, but eventually, we got inside.

Everyone has seen it but do you also know what's inside? Unfortunately, I don't have a picture, but there is an emtpy tomb, a cenotaph of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is believed that the Taj Mahal was only meant to be a tomb for his wife only and the Shah himself would rest on a second Taj Mahal, right behind it, across the river. You can even see the foundation of the second Taj Mahal.

After that, Mr. Bomb brought us to the Agra Fort, an impressive building and actually have good memories about it, because the architecture was interesting to me.

View of Taj Mahal from the Agra Fort

For lunch, we ate a delicious curry I can't forget about (To be honest, everything I ate in India was great). My father ordered a beer and it came in a can surrounded by an aluminum foil with a ceramic cup. They didn't want to know that it's beer and I wondered why. My brief research only told me that alcohol is viewed differently among the people.

We still had some hours in Agra left so our driver took us to a tour through many different shops to convince us to buy something. This by the way, can happen anytime you take a taxi, that they don't drive to your destination directly, but making a short stop at an often overpriced shop for tourists. In Agra, we didn't mind because we weren't in a hurry and we didn't know what else to do, but to me it felt a bit uncomfortable first, because we always left the shop without buying anything after them explaining a lot about their products.

Many shops were selling handcraft items and it was just unbelievable to see putting so much work on items that makes me wonder how they make a living out of it. Some of the shops actually did interest me, like the carpet shop where we got to see how they make carpets. In hindsight, I should have bought something, maybe not a carpet but just a small souvenir that also helps the locals. I wanted to buy a souvenir anyways but at the time I had an emotional blockade of buying stuff, because they told me to.

We went back to Delhi and started preparing for the next day. We were planning to go to the city of Varanasi, some say it's the Jerusalem of Hinduism, a very holy and religious place. I've never heard of the city so I didn't know what to expect, but it was incredible. Stay tuned for the next part!

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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
i can already hear mg typing that i'm typing my paragraphs

Great blog! Dosa is good lol

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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
Looks like you've been to the south of India so you must've tried the best Dosa in the world!
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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
I'm from the south of India :)
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
Ohhh didn't know! Wow tell me more if you want! I absolutely loved my stay in India and will definitely revisit to also cover the south.
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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
Best place in South India is Hampi, you've probably heard of it since you like traveling, and it's a UNESCO heritage site. It's a small village so it doesn't feel like a famous site or anything but it does have tourists, but it was once the 2nd largest city in the world. My favorite major city in South India is Chennai since it has beaches and near some historical sites but I want to visit Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada also. There's also lots of nature but I still need to see more of it. Also, the best language to use in South India is English, but if you want to learn a local language then you could just focus on one state to learn it's language.
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
I've never heard of Hampi before and just looked up some pictures. I will definitely keep the place in mind when traveling, thank you! :) Which state are you from?
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Level 65
Jun 27, 2022
Andhra Pradesh.
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Level 38
Jun 26, 2022
A-AKINATOR?
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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
Nice addition to your travel blogs! I hope you had a great time in India.

I am Indian as well and I adore a lot of South Indian dishes. I love masala dosa! I would probably rank it #2 in my favourite dishes. The reddish stew with the dosa in your picture is sambar while the white one is coconut chutney. The green one looks like mint or coriander chutney.

What is that curry in the second-last picture? I am unable to figure it out.

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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
I unfortunately forgot :(
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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
What did contain? Was it cottage cheese?
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
I absolutely have no idea anymore, it just tasted like curry as in the picture
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Level 65
Jun 26, 2022
I was on the 6am train from Delhi to Agra too. It was so early but the station was already packed with people.
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
I traveled there in February, maybe off season?
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Level 64
Jun 26, 2022
Wow, great travel blog, again! Indian Cuisine is, in my opinion, one of the best in Asia and probably the world as well.
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
Agreed!!!
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Level 38
Jun 26, 2022
India is such a fascinating country well, can’t say the opposite or tnt and afc would kill me. It’s even more delightful by reading your stories :)
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Level 62
Jun 26, 2022
Yes, it's one of the few countries I'd definitely revisit :)