An Experience: My First Days in India

Did I mention I am going to India? Because I am IN India.

After years of talking about this trip and anticipation, my parents, sister and I made the trip across 11 and a half time zones to India. This is the furthest any of us have ever been from home (yes, even me).

With the help of my mom and a travel agent friend of Dean, this trip has been planned to a tee. This is a little different from the way that I travel but at least this way we won’t be wandering the streets of foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, with nowhere to stay. It might be my style but they like a little more organization.

Our first day was one of the only ‘free days’ in our schedule so I went to get SIM cards and go to the chemist. After being overcharged 5 times the regular price for our cell phones and getting followed while trying to find the chemist, I remembered that I was no longer in Canada.

We then all went out as a family to sight-see aka shop in Delhi. After fighting whether we would go with the safe-overcharged-hotel taxi or the fun-slightly sketch-street taxi, we were off.

The sketch taxi won. My mom wasn’t too happy about that one. But one thing that I learned is that anyone that is providing a service to outsiders is mostly slightly sketch. Yes, they all want commission for bring you there but that what happened when you want to be a tourist.

[When I come back to Delhi, I will no longer be a tourist, but a journalist so I had fun acting the part for a day.]

And, who doesn’t like a driver who tells you he loves Resident Evil movies and his favourite band is the Backstreet Boys?

Our two drivers for the trip

Quick note: for those of you traveling to India, many of the national sightseeing things are closed on Monday, well that’s at least what we were told.

We also happened to have our tour around Delhi on the 100th anniversary of the city.

A temple - I love the school girls waiting in this photo

The monkey god

India Gate

Groundnuts in newspaper

Lunch at Alfa Spice

Feeding the monkey

Media for Delhi's 100 year anniversary

Family in front of Parliament building

Parliament

We also did some shopping.

Britt trying on Sari

"You look like a Bollywood star"

Now, being in a clothing shop with three girls is not the funnest thing for my Dad. After talking with some of the artists, they asked him what he wanted to buy. He said he wanted a beer. So, they brought him one.

Dad trying out the local brew... in a shop

I am not one to be left out.

Yah for daytime drinking!

The next day, we caught a train to Jalandhar, a region north of Delhi.

From there, we took a six-hour drive north to Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and just east of the Himalaya Mountains. It’s chilly here and I only brought shrugs to India.

The whole town is focused around the Tibetan people who have been exiled since 1959. We visited Tibetan museums, the temple and stayed in a guesthouse supported by the monetary to protect Tibetan culture. Our room was ‘Tibetan Mystical Creatures’.

Our guest house

Sign in the square

When we were leaving our hotel in the morning, a staff member told us His Holiness would be arriving that morning at 10:30. At 9 am, the streets were lined in preparation for his arrival. People wore white scarves and lit incense that made the streets full of smoke.

Lighting incense

Streets of people awaiting His Holiness' arrival

Baby clutching prayer bead

Road up to the temple

Praying as his car comes into sight

Although his car was driving fast, I was still able to snap a couple of pictures.

His car arriving in the streets

I wish he the driver wasn't in the way of this photo

Waving to his worshippers

Later, his security guard told us that his arrival is usually not as big but since the Dalai Lama is teaching lessons next week, many people had traveled from Tibet.

Monks receiving a teaching inside the monastery

Shoes outside the teaching

Information on the prayer wheel that lines the temple

Monk spinning the prayer wheel

The streets of Dharmsala

My visit to Dharamsala was such a crazy experience, I feel like I have been gone away from Canada for years. It was surreal to be in the temple at the same time as the Dalai Lama, someone who I, and I guess the world, admires so much. There are few things in life that could beat it.

Want to interview the Dalai Lama? Here are the rules/instructions

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9 thoughts on “An Experience: My First Days in India

  1. Wow, thanks Alyssa! Your pictures and blog make me feel like I have to go there! So very interesting….Merry Christmas to you all out in India!

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