You haven’t lived until you’ve been so confused by your surroundings that you stop asking questions.
I traveled with a group of 12 people from the Church at Brook Hills to Delhi, India last week.
To say that the Indian culture is different from America would be an understatement. For starters, the Coke cups are the size of shot glasses. Some kids have the skill to draw temporary tattoos on your hands. Every thing about India is unique in its own way. Here are two main takeaways that I want to share about my experience on the other side of the world.
1.) The heat is constant It was after 2 a.m. Sunday when our group arrived at the Delhi airport. As soon as we stepped outside, I could feel the dry heat encompass my entire body. The heat never goes away, even after the sun goes down. It creates dust, and this dust fills your nostrils. There’s no such thing as “fresh air” in India. Opening a window is like opening an oven and sticking your head inside. Also, it didn’t rain once all week. The people who live in India are simply used to the heat and accept it as normal. I was sweating bullets walking around the villages and slum areas. Wearing dry-fit shirts each day was an excellent idea!
2.) Cars can fit in really tight spaces Of all the things that were a culture shock, the way that people drive is what stood out the most to me. The fact that people drive on the left side of the road there came as no surprise, however, other observations had me baffled beyond reason. What I did not expect was the utter chaos that ensued on the roads at all times of the day. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. It is a known fact that despite the chaotic driving, they have fewer accidents in India than we do here in the USA. Driving in India is like playing one continuous game of dodge ball with all kinds of people, cars and animals. Traffic laws are simply not enforced in India the way that they are required in America. The speed limit signs and narrow lane lines are just suggestions.
Next, the red lights are optional. Some members of our team loved the thrill of riding in cars that sped up at every opportunity, weaving in and out of traffic like a knife through butter. Others of us, such as myself, almost had a mini heart attack with every close call and sharp right turn. I saw fourteen year-olds riding on motorcycles. I saw animals not only walking on the side of the road but strutting in the MIDDLE of the street. These animals included cows, horses, goats, pigs, water buffalos, and many village dogs that run around eating trash. I even spotted a few camels here and there. Travel to India and you’ll experience a mix of motorcycles, cars and bikes dodging one another, swerving and quickly merging. And don’t even get me started on the horns. People LOVE to honk their horns constantly, as a heads up for coming over to the other lane, cutting people off in traffic. Horns honk from all different directions.
Picture above: It’s pedal to the medal in India. This is how close the cars get to each other when stopped.
There is a first time for everything. My first time in India was filled with questions and curiosity. I feel more knowledgable after experiencing life in an unfamiliar territory. Jet lag affected us the most during the first couple of days. New Delhi is 10.5 hours ahead of the U.S. central time zone. While a lot of cultural norms were difficult to adjust to, I loved India. I love that it’s so much different than any other place I’ve been to. I would go back if I got the chance. Seriously though, there were so many cows! Who is in charge of milking them and where do they all come from?
I got this cow to look at me while I snapped a photo.
Thanks for reading! Chris