sent by Maddy Pauchet, International Robin Reporter, International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I have been to India before, but the last time I visited we travelled to South India and went to Goa, Bengaluru, Mysore and other cities in that area. My family and I fell in love with the country's perpetual sun and friendly people and it was inevitable that we would return. This time, we opted for Rajasthan. We went to Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi in a two-week semi-circle trip.
Each day, we would visit ancient forts, discover traditional arts and hear local, ancestral music. Culturally, India is undeniably rich, and it was a pleasure to visit places and structures such as the Taj Mahal and palaces and temples, which were each unique in their own way.
But beyond all of these traditional touristic routes, my very favourite part of the trip was walking through cities and villages. Everyone is so friendly and everything is so picturesque. While we were walking along a road in Jaipur, we could see monkeys trying to catch kites. In Jodhpur, we stopped at a market stall to watch a bangle-maker. Here we learnt that bangle-making was a family enterprise, which was handed down from father to son.
What's really nice was that no matter where we went, we did not feel like tourists sticking out like sore thumbs in a crowd. The people we met on our trip had an incredible way of making us feel at home. Striking up a long-winded conversation on Marwadi horses while buying guavas on the street seemed to be a perfectly natural thing to do in India, a concept which is almost unimaginable to people like me, who come from a society where relationships with strangers are cold, tourists are frowned on (French people, as a general rule, resent tourists, who are stereotyped as obnoxious) and guava is a fruit so rare that it is treasured and served only on special occasions.
Being a witness to such a colourful, rich, open-armed culture, even if it was only for two short weeks, was an incredible experience. Living in India on a day-to-day basis may be different, but as a tourist I experienced the uniqueness of this country, which has so many things to offer. India has such a rich culture with such incredible traditions that dragging around the label of a nationality may sometimes be a heavy burden, but being tagged with 'Indian' should considerably lighten your load.