Galtaji

India & Nepal: explaining the unexplainable

Galtaji
near Galtaji (monkey temple), Jaipur

We had some people over this past weekend, some of whom we hadn’t seen since our big trip. “So, how was India?”  they ask. “Was it amazing?”

It’s been nearly four months since we returned from our trip, and we still don’t know where to start answering that question. India cannot be boiled down into a sound bite, or an elevator pitch.

India was amazing. It was also frustrating, and fascinating, and difficult. It was dirty, and beautiful, and heartbreaking, and enlightening.

Amber Fort, Jaipur
Amber Fort, Jaipur

India is everything, all at once. Which is what makes it so hard to put into words.

I think the thing that has been most difficult is reconciling what we thought we knew about India before the trip, and what we know now; how we thought we would would feel being in India, and what we felt while we were there. As for Nepal, we didn’t know what to expect, really. We added it on mostly based on a friend’s recommendation,  assuming (correctly, as it turned out), that it would be a good wind-down stop after visiting three very different places in India.

“What was your favorite city?”

Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal

That’s an impossible question to answer. Each place we visited was so incredibly distinct; it was like four mini-trips. Comparing the majestic desert forts of Jaipur with the lush tropics of the Maidan in Calcutta, or the laid back hippie vibe of Kathmandu with the grand avenues of New Delhi…even New Delhi and Old Delhi are like completely different countries.

“Would you go back?” 

Immediately upon returning, Rob said that India was the first place we’d ever been that he wasn’t sure he wanted to ever visit again, and I knew exactly how he felt. Despite the incredible experience, being in India and Nepal for almost three weeks is tiring, both physically and mentally. Mentally more so, in fact.

We talk about this trip often, over a glass or two of wine in the evening, and the funny thing is, the further away we get, the more fond our memories. That’s how memories work though, isn’t it?

 

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

But yes, in the end, we agree we would go back, someday. India is a huge country, and there is a lot more to see. And Nepal was captivating in a very different way. We only scratched the surface of both places. Over the next week or so, I will be posting about each city we visited, what we did and saw there, and hopefully show the beauty and complexities of these two fascinating countries.

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