My journey india was special, then I’ll explain why. I did it before the 2000s, so most likely the India that I saw, now no longer exists as that nation has had a very big economic boom in recent years. I want to tell it as I lived it then because it was light years away from our Italy for many things, and in a way you found yourself catapulted back in time. I did this i travel with my family and 3 children. The first was big, 17 years old, the twins only 7 years old and for this I had a lot of doubts both before leaving and during the trip. Before leaving in fact they made us do a prophylaxis for malaria and various vaccines, so I immediately imagined those places as dangerous to our health and that’s why with two relatively young children that I did not enjoy the stay enough. After all, there was always that fear that I would expose my children to danger. Good thing nothing happened.
The special part of this travel is that we did not do it with some agency, but we were invited by an Indian family who lived half of the year in Italy and half in India, precisely in New Delhi and then we lived for twenty days, how long it lasted the journey,seeing up close the daily life they lived then and seeing things that in a organized trip we would never have seen. Let’s go for a viage which will last almost a day, between the airport of Florence, Paris and then headed to New Delhi.Only Paris New Delhi lasted 11 hours, so we arrived in India that was late at night, for the time difference. He picks us up at the airport with the friend who takes us to his house. This person lives in a fine neighborhood of the capital, so I saw the beautiful villas of the neighborhood. A little strange because they all went high and did not have much garden around, unlike the central part of the neighborhood which was a real park very nice and cared for.
The house is very nice, for our family there was a whole apartment. We could only sleep for a couple of hours because at one point we were woken up by a very loud nenia coming from a loudspeaker. It was only 6:00 in the morning. I looked out to the terrace and saw a procession of people with a very old man in a turban singing something with the megaphone on my head. They told me that it is the Yoga master who calls his pupils who then gather everyone in the central park to do Yoga. And this also happens in the evening around 5.And apart from this always overlooking the terrace I see the terrace of the neighboring house and a little man sitting on the ground between buckets and cloths, he is doing the laundry. They then explained to me that that person went around the houses and did the laundry. Every house has a reserved area for this. When he has finished he lays out his clothes on the terrace to dry and in the afternoon passes a woman who picks up the clothes, irons them and puts them in place in the various drawers and closets. The washing machine doesn’t exist. I understand when I heard this, why the family that hosts us, especially the lady changes at least 3 times a day. But I wouldn’t change my life with his. In fact, you told me that you much prefer to live in Italy because you can work with us, go out on expenses, and do so many other things that are not allowed in India to a woman.
I explain a little how a woman of that society lives, of a fairly rich caste. In the morning just got up or do Yoga or pray to the God of the day. Yes, because in India they have a God on a day always different. And every house, indeed every person in the house has its own personal God and different customs regarding food especially. It is not uncommon that in a family the husband has a God other than his wife and maybe on Tuesdays he can not eat meat, mind the wife can not eat it on a Friday. Or the fasting day is different. Weird things, in short. Returning to the woman, the day continues with a few visits, either hairdresser or television. He doesn’t go shopping, he doesn’t do chores, he doesn’t cook. For this there are servants, in our case a family of 4 who live underground of the house. And these are lucky because so many other servants live just outside the walls of the neighborhood. I saw that neighborhood, and it’s an open sewer with dilapidated shacks and a lot of dirt, which is really very sad. The Indian woman of a rich caste is mortally bored. She can’t go out alone, but she only has to go out with her husband. You can only move within the neighborhood to go to friends or relatives if they reside there.
What struck me about this life is the absolute lack of stress, that is, when you wake up you get up, when you are hungry you eat and to work (these friends bought precious stones and sold them in Ialia) go when you feel like it. Maybe when the children go to school it will be different, but in the period we were in India the schools were closed for the summer holidays. As I said the house that housed us was very nice, from our apartment we had two terraces opposite each other. There were no air conditioners as we understand them now, but the air of the small apartment was refreshed the night before going to bed with some freezing water placed in front of a fan. Not much but something did. But we had to keep everything open because it was really a terrible heat and the mosquitoes were really many. We organized ourselves with stoves and smeared with creams suitable for the purpose, but they bit anyway. Thank goodness that on the ceiling of the room that fortunately was very high there were about ten gecis feasting with mosquitoes. The first night I had quite a bit of difficulty falling asleep with those gecis above my head, but then they assured me that they didn’t fall from the ceiling and ate a lot of mosquitoes so it was good that there were. We as Italian classics took us to India, spaghetti and coffee and luckily our friends used to Italian cuisine made us taste typical Indian cuisine recipes but we also had spaghetti tomato every day. The meat was only chicken, but it wasn’t that great. Most Indians are vegetarians and do not eat meat. So we ate some flatbreads that were freshly prepared with very spicy dips, rice in so many ways, always with vegetables. The kitchen therefore did not seem like much, in fact we came home all a little slimmed down. In the morning for breakfast for example, they drank a glass of a certain red liquid that I did not like and neither did my children. We found cereal bars and some small chocolates at the market and had breakfast with milk.
After breakfast we went out to visit some tourist spot in the capital and our guest would accompany us with a fairly large bus where we were in 9.Travelling by car in India is smashed. Get out of the walls of the neighborhood where there is almost absolute silence and you enter the busy streets not only of cars, trucks, trams, but also from camels, elephants and many cows around the streets. So it’s all honking, all the time.
It goes slowly, there are too many people to dodge, the rickshaws are really many, and the bikes, but it is the animals that slow everything down. Cows as I think you know are sacred animals in India and roam the streets quietly. No one moves them, everyone waits for the animal to move to pass and when it moves everyone rushes playing at more I can. It’s really a mess but very funny, at every corner you find something strange, an elephant, a row of camels, a bus with people climbing even on it.
In New Delhi there are many places to visit for a tourist. Starting with Red Fort. It is majestic and imposing with its walls with a particular red color due to the sandstone with which it was built. Inside its walls there are many pavilions one more beautiful than the other, immense pools and rooms with walls and ceilings inlaid with precious stones. It takes several hours to visit all the fort but it’s worth it. And inside also a large garden cut into two water channels that gather in a pool. But any description I can give is always reductive, it is seen live.
Another thing to see in New Delhi is the market. It is a picturesque and very large place, which winds through tiny streets where a myriad of small shops overlook its streets and alleys. There are some shops that are so small and low that the shopkeeper has to sit down to serve people. But sitting there doesn’t have to be much protruding to get from all parts of his shop. It’s also a colorful world from women’s saris (the traditional dress of low caste Indian women) while women of richer caste wear a foot-long tunic with very baggy trousers under them and a scarf over their shoulders. But all the clothes have incredible colors, they are very fine, almost impalpable.
The Indian sari, on the other hand, consists of a skirt up to the feet, a bodice that usually leaves the belly uncovered and a very wide scarf draped over one shoulder. But the confusion, the calls of the shopkeepers, the colors, the often spicy smells transport you into a world of almost a thousand and one nights. And then the bazaars in the city center, the ones full of lights and wonderful carpets, of colorful clothes, where you are offered tea and sit on fluffy pillows while the clerks show you what you want. Shopping is also a truly relaxing activity.
In the Indian capital, which is truly immense, there are still many other places worth visiting, for example the tomb of Indira Ghandi which is located in the center of a huge, well-groomed garden where you walk barefoot and carpet a soft grass. In fact, another Indian custom is that in sacred places, such as tombs, temples, you can’t enter with shoes but you have to leave them out. The strange thing is that we visited several places of worship and our shoes were always found.
To know what to see again in the Indian capital you just need to read some tour guides, but all the contour, humanity, life, culture very different, the only thing is to see it live, explain it and tell it is difficult, are skin sensations that I make you remember with pleasure that journey.
But my trip to India did not end here, in the next article I will tell about the trip to Jaipur, an emotional journey, in the ancient land of the Maharajas.