Indian women are TOUGH

Indian women are tough.  Meanwhile, men do a lot of sitting around.  This is, of course, a GROSS generalization.  But during my time in India, I saw dozens of women doing strenuous manual labor, such as carrying a headful of bricks, working in the tea plantations, sweeping leaves on steep mountain sides (still unsure why they were doing this), carrying children, sweating over a huge pot of curry or rice, etc.  At the same time, I saw probably hundreds of men sitting around on benches, publicly napping, sipping chai, or gambling in the street with their friends.

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Leaving India

I spent my last 24 hours in India with Elizabeth, totally conquering Delhi.  We took public transportation everywhere, saw some of Delhi’s most famous sites (The Baha’i House of Worship/Lotus Temple & the Mughal Gardens at the President’s Estate), ate our final authentically delicious Indian meals, enjoyed some cold Kingfisher beers, toured the world’s largest Hindu temple (Akshardham), and loved every second of it.

Delhi’s Main Bazaar Road by night:

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The Indian Selfie

The Indian Selfie

*Disclaimer #1: Technically not all of the photos below are selfies, by definition.
*Disclaimer #2: Not all of these photos are mine. My Aussie friends, Tim Starkey and Pedro Dyson, have graciously contributed some of their “classic Indian selfie” pics to this post.
Indian people love being in photos, whether it’s a selfie or someone else taking their picture, they just can’t get enough of it. They also LOVE to have their picture taken with western people.  In the past two months I have had countless Indians ask me 1. If I will take a selfie with them or 2. To take a photo of them. Just them. With my camera. Like these…

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Varanasi, Where Bodies Burn

Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is the spiritual capital of India.  Thousands of Hindus make a pilgrimage here to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges River and perform funeral pujas (ceremonies).  It is believed that bathing in the Ganges (the 2nd most polluted river in the world) will wash away all of one’s sins.  It is also believed that placing someone’s cremated ashes or body in the river will release them from the cycle of reincarnation (called ‘moksha’), thus avoiding returning to Earth in the next life as an Indian street dog.  Rituals surrounding the cremation take place along the ghats all day, every day with up to 300 bodies being burned daily at the main ‘burning ghats’.  If you stop and watch for a while, you’ll see body after body go into the pyres.  You can observe people burn from as close as 30 feet away in some ghats.  Bodies wrapped in orange and gold shrouds are carried down to the riverbed, dipped into the river, clothing is removed minus a white gauzy wrap, and then set onto the fire.

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Getting good at India

The longer you stay in India, the better you get at India. What am I talking about, you might ask? Well, I found myself thinking today, after being extremely insistent on a tuk tuk fare, “I’m getting pretty good at this whole India thing.” There are a lot of things that just get easier the longer you’re here.  Here are the ones I feel like I’ve gotten better at.

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