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My impressions of India

In November I finally decided to join a four week tour of the North of India (from Delhi to Kolkata, and the state of Orissa).
It was my first time in India and, as expected, it has been a quite uncomfortable cultural shock.
Even if I could not visit any World Natural Heritage Site, the trip has been well worth the effort.

It is not easy to process all the inputs, and digest the extreme contrasts of India. Nonetheless, I’ll try to summarize, with the support of some photos, My Impressions of India.

Bright colors

India appears joyfully painted with exceptionally vivid colors. Eye catching, probably artificial, and sometimes even toxic, the typical Indian colors create a unique atmosphere.
Still, it is hard to approve the practice of animal decoration.

Piles of colored powder displayed on a market stall in Pushkar, Rajasthan
Piles of colored powder displayed on a market stall in Pushkar, Rajasthan
A colorfully decorated elephant making his way up to the Amber Fort, Amer, Rajasthan
A colorfully decorated elephant making his way up to the Amber Fort, Amer, Rajasthan

Magnificent forts

Even if most of them were abandoned and have consequently deteriorated over time, Indian forts and palaces are simply spectacular.

View of the Amber Fort, Amer, Rajasthan
View of the Amber Fort, Amer, Rajasthan

View of the Man Mandir Palace, Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
View of the Man Mandir Palace, Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

Urban cows

Cows feeding on garbage seem to work well as an efficient waste processor. Cows’ excrements are collected and used as combustible.
Anyway, the perception of urban skinny cows clash with the romantic idea of fat cows grazing in the Alps.

Cow trying to eat plastic from wheelbarrow, Pushkar, Rajasthan
Cow trying to eat plastic from wheelbarrow, Pushkar, Rajasthan

Cow excrements for sale on the ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Cow excrements for sale on the ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Stray dogs and monkeys

The huge amount of unhealthy stray dogs is becoming a serious issue. Areas unreachable by dog are populated by smart but mean monkeys.
Be aware of the monkey thieves!

Beach promenade with cows eating garbage and stray dogs, Puri, Orissa
Beach promenade with cows eating garbage and stray dogs, Puri, Orissa

Family of urban monkeys, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Family of urban monkeys, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Humble ordinary jobs

It’s quite disappointing to notice that many jobs look surprisingly humble for a third largest economy (PPP) in the world.
Working conditions don’t seem appropriate too.

Men doing the laundry on the ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Men doing the laundry on the ghats, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Old man working on a sewing machine, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Old man working on a sewing machine, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Hygienically debatable behaviors

Traditions and religious rituals can be very important in society. Nonetheless, progress should drive the update of some habits incompatible with modern public health requirements.

Shoes left by visitors at the base of Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Shoes left by visitors at the base of Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

View of the cremation ghat (Manikarnika Ghat) from the opposite side of the Ganges, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
View of the cremation ghat (Manikarnika Ghat) from the opposite side of the Ganges, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Basic cuisine

«Indian food culture is rich and diverse». Actually, ordinary restaurants can be extremely basic and the everyday menu will probably be soon perceived as poor and repetitive.

Restaurant in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
Restaurant in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

Plain rice, fried spicy vegetable, and curry chicken served on dried leaves, Orissa
Plain rice, fried spicy vegetable, and curry chicken served on dried leaves, Orissa

Imaginative religious iconography

The Hindu iconography is really fascinating and imaginative. The concept of ‘avatar’ is quite intriguing…

Wall painting of Krishna at the Iskcon Temple, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Wall painting of Krishna at the Iskcon Temple, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Pink towers dedicated to Shiva and Ganga at the Rajendra Prasad Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Pink towers dedicated to Shiva and Ganga at the Rajendra Prasad Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Friendly children

Far from touristic sites, children are genuinely sociable and curious.
When in Varanasi, buy a fighter kite, go to the ghats, and let the kids teach you how to fly it.

Childrens at a tribe village, Orissa
Childrens at a tribe village, Orissa

Tribal boy posing for photo while eating a biscuit, Orissa
Tribal boy posing for photo while eating a biscuit, Orissa

Orissa Eternit tribes

Sadly unaware about the risks of living under Eternit roofs, Orissa tribes seem to welcome the leftovers of an infamous technology.

Tribal girls in school uniform, Orissa
Tribal girls in school uniform, Orissa

Dwellings with Eternit roofs in a tribe village, Orissa
Dwellings with Eternit roofs in a tribe village, Orissa

Polluting traffic

The apparently unruled and chaotic traffic flow is only manageable by locals. Vehicles are creative but inadequate for one of the most polluted area of the world.

Crossing the Howrah Bridge on a typical taxi of Kolkata, West Bengal
Crossing the Howrah Bridge on a typical taxi of Kolkata, West Bengal

Colorful public buses, Kolkata, West Bengal
Colorful public buses, Kolkata, West Bengal

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