Until I was almost 60, I did very little traveling. Then my husband and I flew to London, and Paris, and even Japan! My sister and I flew to Ireland, and Turkey and Israel. I went alone to Australia and New Zealand. I began to feel like I really knew my way around the world. Then we went to India, and I realized I knew nothing.
This was the only trip going with a tour, and, coward that I am, I'm very glad we rode encased in a white bus-bubble. We traveled the part of India called the Golden Triangle, the section most visited by tourists: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Yes, there are marvels to see - among horrifying poverty, disgusting filth and insane roads.
There are NO GARBAGE TRUCKS. People sweep trash up into piles, animals rummage through the piles, and it stays there. Along the banks of the Ganges River, women do their laundry, in the filthy water.
Dried animal dung is used as fuel. I watched women use their bare hands to form the dung into patties and pile them up to dry.
I could see the handprints on the drying fuel.
Women cooked on small fires in rural villages, and in city gutters.
I saw these pumps everywhere: water for drinking, washing, laundry, everything. People bathe right along the roadside at these pumps. There are no public toilets, so people urinate and defecate everywhere.
In urban areas, it was common to see shanties like these, often huge groupings of these improvised buildings. When I discussed this with someone, they said "you think this is bad, you should see Mumbai!" I can't imagine.
My sister and I, and our fellow tourists, rode along in air-conditioned comfort, drinking chilled bottled water, sealed off from reality, going from one gated, guarded, luxury hotel to the next.
I've read travel accounts describing the wonders of India, the spirituality, the beauty: that's like describing the beautiful face of a starving woman. We should be sending aid, not tourists. Look, I don't have this set up so people can leave comments easily, but I'd really like to hear what other people think about this. At the top of the page there's a CONTACT you can click and write to me, and I will answer your email.