India is a mirror: start polishing
Have you longed to go to India — but were daunted by not knowing where to start, what to bring, how to prepare or where to go?
India deserves its reputation for being both the most potentially transformative travel destination on earth — and one of the most challenging to newbies. There is magic in learning how to be in India: how to deal with the chaos, crowds, seemingly inefficient methods, bizarre contradictions, extremes of every kind, lower hygienic standards, heat, dust, and feeling that you are a target for every con artist, tout, tuktuk driver and shyster in the country.
But if India was just a nuisance and a challenge, it wouldn’t be India. Because India is also full of joy, celebration, devotion, colour, spectacle, kindness, warmth, openness, trust and beauty. Many foreigners — myself included — go to India prepared for the difficulties, and then find themselves surprised by how much India moves them. If you let India affect you, as I did, you might “fall in love” with the people and the place. And you might find yourself radically transformed. Notions once held dear are abandoned. Fears once harboured set sail. Narrowness is replaced with perspective, and judgement with compassion.
The trick to being in India is to be prepared – but not TOO prepared! Read on to find out the number one thing you need to know before visiting India. And also about a free information session I am holding on September 14, 2011 in Toronto.
Attitude is everything
The first time I went to India, back in 2005, I took a suitcase full of medications for such things as malaria and diarrhea, a complete homeopathic kit, a mosquito net, an emergency medical kit that included gloves and syringes, a book about staying healthy in Asia, guidebooks and all kinds of other paraphernalia I found I didn’t need. The travel medical clinic in Toronto, and other sources I had consulted, had whipped me into a fear-frenzy!
And then I landed in India and found it to be a very civilized place. The medical centre I went to in Delhi was frankly superior to what we have in Canada; and the Indian family I was staying with (rightly) laughed at all my stuff.
After five lengthy trips to the subcontinent, I’ve learned to get the basics in place — and then just let India flow. Visas and vaccinations are important, but just as important is attitude. Going to India with the right attitude is the single most important thing you can do to prepare.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: India is a mirror. Whatever attitude you bring with you will be reflected back at you. If you bring fear, scary things will happen. But if you travel with a non-judgmental attitude, and with openness, trust, respect and genuine curiosity, you will have wonderful and life-changing experiences.
Getting ready to go to India
To get you ready to go to magical India, and find out what you need to know, do and bring, I’m holding a free information session, along with travel and tour expert Deborah Peniuk of AYA LIFE. You will be treated to some tasty Indian snacks, such as bhel puri, samosas and pakoras – the same types of foods you will see served in India.
The information session will cover:
- what you need to know about getting a Visa for visiting India, and passport requirements
- how to prepare your body and your mind: recommended vaccinations, suggested homeopathic and herbal remedies and cultivating a successful attitude
- what to pack, what to bring and what you can expect to buy in India
- all things money-related: how much to bring, how to change money, the currency system in India and exchange rates, etc.
- a briefing on what to eat and drink – and what to avoid – while in India
- what to expect in terms of transportation, sites, street life and people
- how to visit temples and perform rituals
DATE: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 ~ 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
PLACE: Kama Indian Restaurant, 214 King St. West, Toronto
So please come with all your questions and I will answer them to the best of my ability. I have traveled for more than 14 months, alone, from one end of India to the other and I have amassed a wealth of experience to draw upon. If you can’t make it to the information session, email me at mariellen [@] breathe dream go . com or ask a question in the comments, below.
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