Going south for the winter
It is said that when you wish really badly for something and you concentrate your energy in really achieving it, the universe helps you. And so my wish since summer of 2008 was to someday see India and…there it is, December 2010 with a heck of year behind me, I finally got my dream accomplished: I am on the plane to INDIA!!!
As this is not your regular kind of vacation nor is it normal kind of business trip, I intend to write a bit about my experiences there. Throughout the last months I have been reading so many travel blogs and books that I cannot even recall and I found or better said did not found so many similarities in what people wrote. I think everybody saw and experienced India a bit differently. Some saw the poverty, some saw the religion, some saw the opportunities, some saw the landscapes, some saw the simplicity and amiability of the people or some just the corruption and discrimination.
Although armed to the neck with fears, of things that might go wrong, I intend to keep an open mind and discover for myself this rising nation. This first piece of article, is dedicated more to the preparation cram that I endured for 1 week and which has been bothering me since I bought my ticket.
As a first advice when buying yourself a ticket, check all the available options!!! Not as I did, act on instinct which may not be always so reliable. So my ticket is with the Emirates: Düsseldorf-Dubai-Mumbai. First the good points: the ticket was with 400 Euro than any Lufthansa ticket at that moment, I am not advertising but it is so; second, you actually have the opportunity to see Dubai, if you are smart enough to request a transit visa for 96 hours (I saw this too late and if you are coming from Germany you do not even need a transit visa 0 lucky guys); and third I just love the ladies with the funky hats on this plane (I will try to take a photo of one :D). Now the bad parts is that if you are in a hurry, you just might want to check what flies out from Frankfurt, as from there you have a direct connection to Mumbai so you will not have to change and the probability that your luggage will not go lost is much smaller.
Of course the next things on the list: visa for India (took only 3 days) and medical check-up (depending on how much time you intend to spend there and how much time you intend to travel throughout the country). You can get you ABC in this field from Lonely Planet travel guide, which I recommend from the bottom of my heart. You can basically see it like the Bible of your journey. It is damn heavy (ca. 1200 pages, but it is worth the back pain!).
I was very thorough in my researches as I have been working with India quite a bit and I know how culturally different they are. I am always of the opinion that when you travel to somebody’s else country, you must have a minimum of knowledge of their culture not to offend them. I always understood, when tourists visited my country and they did not know the customs, but I have held a high esteem of those who at least knew some basic key facts of history, religion, habits, etc. That is why, before reading lonely planet, I have read another book, written by a German Rainer Kurt, who has spent most of his life in India and I found it a bit more enlightening in taking in this culture shock, whereas Lonely Planet is more to help you get around and travel preparation.
I will post tomorrow an image of my luggage as today I had the stress of having it finally checked and see that everything was in order. It seems nobody complaint of my kilogram of antibiotic and pills for everything that can come to your mind nor for the 2 kilograms of Haribo for my Indian colleagues J.
Very important aspect: if deciding to visit India, check which are the best months to do this. Not to end up in the monsoon months or when you have 40 degrees as average temperatures. This time my instinct did not fail me, and December is really a good month, if you want to avoid the Christmas chaos in a warm place. Right now average temperature 27 degrees – JUST my favorite. I was lucky enough to be brought at the airport by a really good friend so that I really had on only summer clothes and looked like a weirdo as there were -4 degrees on my departure from Düsseldorf.
Soon I will be landing in Dubai, so tune in tomorrow| today (right now is today in Dubai). Will be posting on facebook, if I manage to upload them.
Ok that is it for now….tune for the next episode :>
Ioana Dinu, European Youth Voice, Germany