During the Easter holiday I had a friend from Norway visiting me. Here is his report from India:
This Easter I travelled to India and visited Karsten. I was invited as a guest blog to write about our trip inIndia. First of all you have to excuse my writings in English, my job and life does not involve a lot of English speaking or writing at a normal day, so I am a bit rusty.
I was in India for almost two weeks. When I told friends and colleagues that I was going to India there were two kind of response. One was a positive response. The other was “do you really want get sick during your vacation?”. Many of Norwegians have this impression about India. When you travel to India you get sick. And the statistics says that 40 % of all people who travel are getting sick. I have to be honest and say that was also my biggest concern. But the key point is just to be aware of what you eat and drink. You have to drink from bottle water which you also brush your teeth in. In the shower, close your mouth. Eat at nice looking restaurants and ask that the meat/chicken is well done. In the beginning I was really careful but since it is so good food in India, at the end I really did not care what I ordered. I had a slight degree of stomach problems, but not so seriously.
When I left Norway the spring just had arrived with around 10 degrees. But it was a big difference to come Mumbai at night time which had around 30 degrees. In Mumbai I used time to do some shopping. The prices at malls down there are around 1/3 of the price back home, so for me this was cheap. I have to admit I bought too much. I almost did not get the suitcase closed when I went back home and I came to Mumbai with an empty suitcase.
Before I went I bought the book Shantaram, which is obligated to read before you go to India and Mumbai according my colleagues. Because of the book, I had to see the restaurant Leopold, Gateway of India, Taj Mahal hotel, and Marine Drive. To get to these places we went by train. Karsten warned what to do and the ride met my expectations. It is strange to see people standing in the door or no door when the train goes around 100 km/h. It would never been allowed in Norway. On the way back home we went by taxi and took around two and half hour. Mumbai is BIG. After two days in Mumbai we went to Alleypey and boarded a houseboat. I have to say that was the best part of the trip. They say Kerala is God’s own country, which I believe is true. We had a big houseboat with separate bedrooms. The nature and the channels were just beautiful. The food we got served was excellent and we really had a good time onboard. The only negative was that I got cockroaches in my bedroom when I tried to sleep. There were no use to kill them because after you killed one, there came another one. Luckily we had a boat with three bedrooms so I went to sleep at the empty room. But overall, I wished we had some more time on this.
After that we had some days in Kochior Fort, in Kochi which the island is called. We got to see the Chinese fishing nets and other things. Even it was a relaxed atmosphere there, I would not recommend to stay there too many days. After this we went to Benguluru. We stayed with a colleague of Karsten who had opened the home for us which we are thankfully for. For me this was just a big city and reminded me about Mumbai.
After this we went for Goa. We stayed at Calangute/Baga Beach. I liked the cabanas on the beach with palmtrees in the background. It is good that it was not build hotels close to the beach. Then it looks more natural. The ocean was salty and going into it was almost not cooling since the temperature was high also there. We rented motorbikes one day. When we rented these bikes I said that I am not renting before I get a helmet. Yes we got a helmet, but it was no strap. So if I crashed the helmet would just have absolutely NO meaning to protect. But the renter just told us that you only need helmet when you go on the highway(?) Anyway we rented the bikes and went to see the beaches up north which was Anjuna and Vagator. If you want a postcard beach, you have to go to these places. Next time I am going to one of these beaches to stay. And it was fun to see hippies are still there.
When I was in India the cricket season begun. It is not a big sport in Norway, so I had no expectations to it. Before I have always seen this as a boring sport which take too long time to watch. But I have changed my opinion. After Karsten has told me about the rules, we tried to watch one game pr day. It is interesting to see how the different tactics is in the game.
A culture difference I noticed was concept of time. To schedule to meet a person at a certain time is no use. InNorwaywe get angry when people are too late. This is not an issue in India. There you schedule a time, but it is just for saying a time to meet, you will probably meet this person two hours after you scheduled. This is very much an example of the difference between the M-time and the P-time.
But overall, I really liked India. I liked the people, food and atmosphere. It is an exotic country and compared to other countries in Asia, like Thailand, they still have preserved their culture.
I hope to go back sometime this autumn if Karsten is still located there.
This weekend I was up in the mountains to ski on snow. It was strange feeling to ski since few days before I was swimming in the ocean of Goa.
Talk to you soon!