Friday, March 10, 2006

What does I.N.D.I.A. stand for?

It stands for "I'll Never Do It Again", apparently!

Certainly, many - if not most - visitors must think it at some stage during their visit and may leave India with that resolution in their minds. And yet they (and I) find ourselves coming back again for more.

It can't just be the escape from a northern winter - there're easier places by far to travel round: Thailand for instance. And it can't just be that it is unquestionably exotic in feel: you could just slip over to Marrakesh for that.

My answer would include challenge and adventure, the wake-up call to count your blessings, the heat, the mental stimulation, the change of diet, the ambient pace and yes even moments of pleasure! The place does mix revulsion and fascination in similar proportions - and on those days when the ad-man's "Indiaaaaah!" is drowned out by the all-present "Indieucch!", then I do tend to think I'll never do it again. But somehow the memory of the fascination, the stimulation - the challenge even - persist when the everyday negatives have been forgotten. So who knows?


Later: Having spent several days at Varkala (see previous post) and after evidence from the luxury circuit in Rajastan, I have to backtrack a bit. It is possible to cocoon yourself from The Real India (should you want to) quite effectively with some planning and expenditure - travel exclusively by taxi, stay in starred hotels or ex-palaces, go straight there from the airport etc. and you could largely ignore where you are. Chacun à son goût!


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