Chapter 6 – Eight Cities in India





We loved India and we are grateful for the experience.


How does one describe India so others might have a glimpse of what this incredible country is all about?  How do you describe a country in which the road system accommodates everything from cars, to buses, to cows, monkeys, motorbikes, elephants, bicycles, tractors, wild pigs, camels, tuk tuks, people and any other motorized and living creatures you can think of – with no real rules – and yet somehow works?  A place that has beautiful temples, palaces, forts, and monuments next to, or overtop of, crammed shanty towns, garbage, dung, stagnant water, and who knows what else.  A country with over 1.3 billion people living in an area 1/3 the size of Canada.  A country where 60-70% of the population live below the poverty line.  A country filled with people that have a spiritual nature – who love to talk, laugh, drink tea (and when called for rum), and enjoy incredibly delicious food.  A country where children smile and wave to you, where teenagers playing a pickup game of cricket in a small field populated by cows will excitedly want you to watch and cheer them on, where a 25 year driver who barely has enough to live on adopts a 6 month old baby from an orphanage because he cares so much.


Over the 24 days we spent in India we visited 8 cities – Delhi (new and old sections), Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mumbai, Alleppey (Alleppey being more of a district than city) as well as several smaller areas such as Sarnath, Rohet, and Ranakpur.  We had guided walking tours of each city and area, cooking lessons in the homes of some wonderful people, delighted in the incredible traffic jams caused by everything from cows and water-buffalo wandering on the roads to cars and buses regularly choosing to use the oncoming traffic lanes as shortcuts.  We marveled at the deep LOVE mausoleum Taj Mahal (ITS AN ETERNAL TEARDROP FALLING FROM HEAVEN ON THE CHEEK Of TIME), went on a brief balloon ride (only up and down as there was no wind that day 🙁 We rode on an elephant, a train, a bicycle rickshaw, a Tuk Tuk, a horse drawn carriage and several boats (including 2 magical nights on a houseboat – called a Kettuvallom).  We experienced many emotional moments as we visited ancient temples, spiritual places such as Varanasi, and memorials to Mahatma Gandhi.  We felt warmth and hope as we walked the back streets of towns (being the only white people for miles) speaking and smiling with people, who in spite of their living conditions, were both positive, gracious and have magical smiles.  Although we only touched India we have felt a country that has both tremendous challenges and potential.


Here are but a brief few of the impressions India has left us with:


  • Varanasi is like no other place we have been — a small rural type city that is deeply spiritual – millions of Indians make the journey there every year to purify themselves in the sacred river Ganges — this is the same river in which they wish to have their remains cremated and spread into – funeral pyres burn 24 hours a day every day of the year


  • India has more magnificent forts, palaces and temples than you can imagine dating back hundreds to thousands of years


  • Indians have millions of gods (literally) but have a singular belief that is a way of life


  • We always felt safe even when we were the only white people on the train, in a restaurant, in the car, or walking through a densely populated village or market


  • Although they say there are rules for driving – we are sure there are none – however there is a fluidity to it – a dance – a respect – a desire to get their first – a patience – there is a saying in India that “driving is all about courage!” We agree


  • There is abject poverty like nothing we could have imagined, but somehow they seem to make a living


  • Almost 70% of the population is rural where the caste system, although banned by the government, is still adhered to along with arranged marriages — however, all the young folk we talked said they are hopeful to change both these cultural norms


  • Canada’s environmentalist would have a nervous breakdown in India.  Amongst the beauty – and there is a ton of it – there is excessive, no beyond excessive, garbage on the roadside, around peoples shelters and homes, floating in the sea, the lakes, and the rivers.  Left over litter from the monsoons is everywhere – this is a real challenge for India going forward.  It bothered us when we first arrived – after a few days we got used to it and were able to look past to see all of the beauty that exists


  • There is a new progressive government.  They are making bold changes that people we met are very supportive of.  The government provides education to everyone who wants it and encourages all citizens to send their kids to school – unfortunately so many poor people don’t have enough understanding to see education as being of value for their children combined with their need for children to help with their general survival – a catch 22


  • Men are the primary workers with women taking care of children and the home – publicly, men socialize with men and women with women – and yet this is the country that penned the Kama Sutra


  • New Delhi and Mumbai are a glimpse at what India is evolving to – progressive, liberal, entrepreneurial and confident



Two last reflections we would like to leave you with:


  1. To truly understand and appreciate this amazing country you must experience it!
  2. In the not too distant future, in spite of their challenges and there are many – India is destined to become a world power!






Gallery: Agra


Gallery: Alleppey


Gallery: Delhi


Gallery: Jaipur


Gallery: Jodhpur

Gallery: Mumbai

Gallery: Ranakpur

Gallery: Udaipur

Gallery: Varansi


Onwards to Cambodia and Vietnam.


Make it So,


Fran and Steve

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  • Phyllis Clark

    Quite right. You need to live India to understand it. Keep the great photo’s coming. I write you from Strqsbourg on a Christmas Market trop pu the Rhine. I look forward to Cambodia.

    December 24, 2016 at 3:22 pm
  • Donna Shields

    Great photos as usual…can’t wait to go. You both look great! Continued safe and happy travels. Talk to you soon
    Love D.

    December 24, 2016 at 7:42 pm
  • Sandy K

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the winter wonderland that is Edmonton. Thank you for sharing the sights, sounds and photos from your amazing trip!!

    December 26, 2016 at 2:35 pm
  • Gwen

    Although such a dichotomy of images – abundance/scarcity – the cities look majestic with a little bit, ok maybe a lot, of chaos thrown in. WOW! I will likely never get to India, so I appreciate your narrative and images. You are experiencing an adventure few of us will live, so take on 2017 like you have 2016 and MAKE IT SO!
    Love Gwen

    December 26, 2016 at 4:45 pm
  • Great job of narrating your experiences in India! Interesting that all the places you have been you found the energy greatest in India. Probably comes from having so many spiritual people around you. Take care and have fun in Vietnam!

    December 27, 2016 at 4:26 pm
  • Ravi B

    Hi Steve and Fran! I just checked in to see your photo’s from your journey. Amazing. As I sit here trapped in my cubicle and a look upon your photo’s and read your blogs I’m very happy for you both to experience all that you are.

    I wish I had known earlier that you were travelling through Jaipur. My late uncle and aunt, originally from Montreal, decided to give back to their birthplace by packing up in Montreal and setting up a home for girls in Jaipur. My aunt, Sheela, would have loved to meet you both and the girls always love to meet new people.

    If you ever pass through there again, let me know.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels….I know I’m looking forward to more of your photos.


    January 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm

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