Overall traveler hacks/tips:
A SIM card is needed for wifi in most places (an indian phone number for text message confirmation)
Activated charcoal proved quite successful in avoiding stomach problems!
AirAsia flights within the country are cheap for long distance domestic travel
We traveled to India for the purpose of attended the wedding of Nandita and Ravi in Bangalore. The hosts were incredibly helpful and had arranged everything for the 3 days we’d be in town around the wedding. Jumping into the culture right away was absolutely valuable. We learned so much right away – how to eat with only the right hand, the Indian head nod/bobble, some dance moves… I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to attend such an intimate event as the wedding and was impressed with the whole extended family’s interest in making the experience comfortable and meaningful for all of us visitors.
Day 1 consisted of wedding preparation: henna and sari fitting at the bride’s house. Her mother had made some delicious food and every single person we met had the biggest smile. Zipping through town in taxis, we saw our first glimpses of Indian street life: cows roaming around, entire families on motorcycles, a tuk tuk Uber and the wildest traffic in the world!
Day 2 was wedding day. The car which came to transport us to the wedding hall was decorated with flowers. The ceremonies lasted all day – we were greeted with breakfast served on palm leaves (the cook told us this was a good source of chlorophyll). During the ceremony, I asked a lot of questions. Having studied Hinduism a bit in school, it was really cool to see things I’d read about in practice. The bride and groom were glowing, it was really cool to see and be part of.
Day 3 we took a day trip to Mysore to see the palace. Adventures in the mini bus with our crew won’t be forgotten. We stopped to walk through a temple on the way. The palace was ornate, filled with global treasures, and did not allow photographs. I liked this, as I felt it maintained the authenticity of the place. We tried some wonderful Indian food (Paneer anything is my favorite, also Dal aka lentils with butter!) under the guidance of our friend, Ashi, a truly wonderful man who went above & beyond to make sure we had a memorable experience. More on the amazing generosity of Indians later…
The next couple of days involved a journey to the E. coast, Goa, in which we initially dismissed our original plans (to head South) due to a local’s recommendation to stay North.. I stress that the South was MUCH more enjoyable for us than the North. My advice to all would be to head straight South to Palolem from the airport, avoiding the whole tourist mess in the North. But this was just our experience…
On to Palolem:
✈️ AirAsia to Goa then taxi (cost 1000-2000Rs)
STAY IN THE SOUTH
we rented the cutest beach huts upon arrival. Prices ranged 1500-2500Rs depending on amenities, although I heard they could be negotiated down as low as 700Rs… we were so impressed with hut #1 that we didn’t care to worry too much about price! Here’s my favorite little dream home:
we also liked this one:
And stayed in this one with an ocean view balcony for our last night:
(basically, I’m ready to move into any/all of these ASAP)
🍴Our favorite spot to eat was Dropadi, which is located right on the beach & we also liked Magic Italy which was recommended by a friend. Because it was the very beginning of the season, not everything was open yet.. I did a little research and it looks like there are many yummy options in the Palolem area! The coconut curry with shrimp must be ordered. Also garlic naan. Seafood was spectacular. Candles were set on tables in the sand along the ocean at night which was romantic and a lovely option for drinking a giant cheap beer (Kingfisher)
One night, we got curious and attended the Silent noise headphones party. It’s a “nightclub” environment where there are 3 Dj’s and participants wear headphones and can switch between the channels and dance along to the different tunes. It was silly and a good experience but we didn’t stay all night long. Of course, I’m not much of a partier… but its fun to see everyone dancing with headphones on and if you sneak your volume down all of the way you’ll hear people singing along out loud which is funny. The location is also cool-right on the coast.
During the day, we would walk to Patnem beach which is just South of Palolem and was a little less crowded. Here we did some yoga on the beach and swam with the fishes.
My highlights of Goa were swimming in the ocean at sunset (and a sunset Boat trip) & we had the cheapest/greatest massages on our last night!
I will return to Goa one day.
It’s easy, it’s beautiful, it’s cheap and safe. 100% recommended.
En route home, we had about 24 hrs back in Bangalore. We headed for Cubbon Park (I always go to a big city and ask where the park is!) and walked around for a while. It happened to be world children’s day so the festivities were entertaining to watch.
Then we found some great spots to eat and drink in the area: Church Street Bistro had great food and a fun hip atmosphere then in the evening we headed to a rooftop bar: 13th Floor for a city view and final “treat yo’self” “Indian” meal (although what we ordered was more South Asian…but yummy!).
Another Bangalore tip: take Uber! We did that to/from the airport and around, it was cheaper and more comfortable than the taxis.
Overall, my week in India was absolutely amazing.
I learned a lot about myself in just short period of time.
I look forward to returning to Northern India (Rishikesh) next month and continuing the journey…
The most outstanding aspect of Indian culture to me was the ideology of generosity. As an American, an Aries, for whatever reason, as me, I think I can tend to be selfish. I liked to think we all had this tendency…but when I got to India and saw the incredible hospitality which others offered to us and to one another, and its presence in their religion, a new leaf was turned in my life. When Indian contacts helped us out we would say “thank you” and they would ask us not to thank them. This was really puzzling at first! In our culture, it’s good manners to act this way…but we began to realize that this had very different meaning in Indian culture. The Indian culture assumes that all will be generous. It is simply rooted in social behavior. Generosity is the norm. Once I realized this, I fell in love. Literally. Since returning home a couple of days ago, I’ve been reflecting on what this generosity discovery means in the context of my own life. To me, I think that generosity IS love. Is is the ACT of loving. And in learning to act generously, I can learn to love unconditionally. Not in the you love me/I’ll love you (contractual) way I’ve know, but in a deeper manner. I now look to give more. I look to give love away. To discover that true love is selfless and only by giving can we make room to receive.
Dear India, thank you for existing. What a culture! What a philosophy! What great love!