India – A Place of Incredible People, Delicious Food, and a Massive Culture Shock!

When people first ask me about my trip to India I immediately start by describing the experience as a massive culture shock for most Westerners. The sounds, smells, sheer amount of people, and never ending eye contact can be very surreal to people who do not travel frequently. Everyone in this country is inquisitive especially when you look American. There’s Billboards spanning the packed motorways advertising prominently american looking models with their blue jeans and polo shirts. They are enamoured with the Western lifestyle and so their endless stares are simply a compliment and excitement to know you. Thats where I can start this post by talking about the people I met in India and that was the goal of my trip actually. The entire reason I traveled here was to visit members of my development team that we’ve been working with for 4 years now.

I can’t say enough how passionate, driven, kind, and caring these people are. They have a Phase in Hindu and I saw it in action first hand so many times ‘Guest is god’. Even if someone doesn’t know you they treat you like family. They also have a kinship for each other that is unmatched in my opinion. While the country was so foreign to me. I never once felt uncomfortable. I always felt safe and like people were being honest with me. This particularly hit home when I met one of my developers family. His mom and dad were some of the nicest people in the entire world. I even got invited to to their sons wedding one day. No he was not engaged or even in a relationship yet (completely arranged) but his mother insisted that I be there. *UPDATE* as of August 2017 he is officially engaged and I did receive my invite but sadly could not go!* Please note she did not speak English but I was able to gather this all via hand signals and smiles.

I honestly can’t say enough about the people there. His family also insisted that I go next door and meet their neighbors where the experience continued. They all were so excited to meet me and everyone was telling stories about how their cousins daughter is studying in America and sends pictures all the time. It was fantastic and shows how humble these individuals are. The thing that really struck me is how caring they all were and smiling even though their lives are very simple. They have simple small homes in large apartment buildings. The entire family lives together (even when they get older). And it’s very simple. Always with a prayer room. It makes me appreciate so much what I have in my life. I’m very lucky to have been raised in a world with as much opportunity as I have now. This is something most Americans just don’t understand. You have to get outside of your comfort zone and experience another culture to really appreciate your own as well.

One of the other highlights from the trip is that I took the entire development team out to dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in town (I let them pick). Everyone was so happy and thankful that I was there. We had smoking non-alcoholic drinks (yes drinking is illegal in the State I was in), multiple soups and appetizers. Flaming veggies and just a crazy experience overall. End of the night I got the tab for 14 people and a 3 Hour dinner was $120…. I don’t get it lol.

During the trip I also got lucky enough to travel when I wasn’t working. I got to visit the beach resort city of Goa, the massive metropolis that is Mumbai, the country side of Gujarat and meet friends from everywhere. This trip had too many highlights to count but I recommend any open-minded traveler to give India a try. I wish you best travels and safe trip. It’ll be an adventure I can promise you that.

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