The Sights, Smells, Tastes and People of India

India truly puts you into sensory overload. There is so much to see, to smell, to eat and not to mention feel that it is a dizzyingly addictive place. I told Ross that it seems if you were from India living anywhere else in the world it would be really difficult because it would seem so boring! Let me try to explain:

Eyes: The people here are beautiful, especially the women. They offset their dark eyes, long black braids and dark skin with boldly bright colored saris. They often wear gold nose rings, the bindi or hindu "red dot" between their eyes and loads of bangles on their wrists. They look so elegant in their bright and embroidered robes and matching scarves that no matter if they are selling fruit on a dirt road, riding in a crowded train, or strolling through hot streets they look ready for a formal ball. From hot pink to turquoise, these women don't adhere to the black makes you look slimmer motto. It is like having a people formed rainbow around you at all times. Then there is the hustle and bustle of the densely crowded cities, from the food stall vendors, to the young men who often walk hand in hand with their friends, to cows wandering the road, it is quite a mix! Sitting back and people watching in India is a tourist activity in itself.

Nose: Your nose really gets the best and the worst in India. From wafts of cinnamon incense to rotting garbage to spicy and mouth watering curry cooking; the streets of India are a party for your nose. One minute you catch the seasoned and sweet smell of masala chai, a drink the people love, and the next you are smelling cow manure and pigs on the road. "The worst good smell in the world," a quote from the Bombay masterpiece novel Shantaram sums it up nicely.

Mouth: OMG the food! Indian food is far and away the best food we have had on this trip, it is incredible. There are so many options and things to try I will just give a highlight of some of our favorites so far. Channa Bhatura: a perfectly spiced coriander chick pea curry served with puffed up wheat fried bread that is chewy, soft and delicious. Masala Dosa: a huge crepe like pancake filled with curried potatoes and peas served with several dipping sauces. Parantha: a potato, veggie and or cheese stuffed pan fried bread often served at breakfast with curd and pickles. Masala Chai: small cups of spicy sweet chai are served everywhere and the little shot of sweet is perfect after a spicy meal. Tandoori Roti: a soft and chewy unleavened wheat bread cooked in a tandoor oven that accompanies most of our meals here. Every curry we have had, we are partial to the spicier ones and have gone strictly veg since we have been here, have us both saying repeatedly, "man this is so good." Indians know how to do food, we haven't had a single bad meal yet and we can't wait to try some of the southern specialties now that we are down south in Kerala.

Heart: The people here have been so great and have made this part of our journey unforgettable. We have had countless offers of tea from strangers, been asked to pose for photos, and have been greeted with big smiles and waggling heads most places we go. From an older women buying me a chocolate bar at the train station just because she was getting one for herself to the "hello ma'am" greetings shouted out across the street. The people have been so friendly to us. We have also seen some heart wrenching scenes here, the slum shacks of Mumbai and the disabled children begging in the train stations really make you wonder how this happens and angry why nothing is being done to change it. But then I think maybe because of the large socioeconomic scale in India it brings a greater level of compassion to the people. I feel like it is somewhat hidden in the US, obviously there are homeless and poor people, but our society pushes that away. In India there is no overlooking the poverty, and I don't think the people try to avoid it. Things that if a stranger did at home, buying me a candy bar for instance, I would find odd and suspicious are just the way people here interact with each other. I feel like you could never put an elevator full of Indians together and have them all stare straight ahead and not speak to one another. I think the people are much happier living together than amongst one another and they remain kind, polite and respectful in this crazy, crowded, and wonderful place.

India is something special.


  1. Just a little jealous as I sit here eating my plain oatmeal. Now I am seriously craving some curry. India has been on my top 5 places to visit, thank you for confirming that for me. Safe travels!

  2. Felt transported. I understand better Interaction I've experienced with Indian people here. Keep explanations of experiences coming. Much enjoyed here.

  3. I read this post to a woman I work with, who is of Indian heritage. Her father grew up there, and they still have relatives living in India. She has visited many times. She thought the post was beautiful and it made her cry. Malini said you captured the essence of the country. Great writing Abby. Keep it up.
    BTW-I'm missing you too much and want you to come home now!