Travel

Surviving One Month In India (Part 2) – Croatian & English Version

Stigli smo u Mumbai oko 22 sata. Grad siromašnih i bogatih, tradicije i modernizma, glamura i bijede. Mjesto Bollywooda. Neprekidna energija. Glasan, zamoran, prljav. Ne postoji između, ili ga volite ili ga mrzite.
Kada smo izašli iz vlaka, kolodvor je bio krcat ljudima, sa svih strana. Unatoč tome, nas dvoje smo iskakali iz gomile. Ljudi su nas cijelo vrijeme gledali. Prišao nam je jedan dečko, pozdravio nas i nastavio nas gledati. Obratio mi se s pitanjem želim li na kavu s njim, iako je vidio Zvonimira sa mnom. Zatim je otišao i vratio se ubrzo s dvije djevojke koje su izgledale doslovno očarano i zadivljeno nama (ne preuveličavam). Nismo uvijek znali kako se točno nositi s tim situacijama jer nikada ovako nešto nismo doživjeli. No, trudili smo se uvijek biti pristupačni.

Uber nas je odvezao do hotela. U to doba, ulice su pune ljudi, prodaje se hrana na ulici, razni štandovi s raznim stvarima. Promet je blago rečeno, kaotičan. Svi trube. Ustvari, da se ispravim; svi “sjede” na trubama. Kada smo napokon našli naš hotel, izgledalo je stravično. Bio je smiješten u nekoj maloj uličici. Ulaz je izgledao kao da ulazite u neko napuštenu zgradu, kablovi su visjeli sa stropa. Popeli smo se liftom i odjednom je izgledalo kao da smo se teleportirali u raj. Sve je bilo uređeno i čisto. Sve što smo mogli vidjeti iz našeg hotela su bile pune ulice ljudi u 23 sata, i sve što smo mogli čuti su bile trube. Trube koje su kroz nastavak našeg putovanja po Indiji postale sastavan dio našeg života. Trube koje su pilile naše živce punih mjesec dana.

U Mumbaiu smo proveli tri dana. Bila su to naporna tri dana. Bilo je gotovo nemoguće ga razgledavati. Vrućina je bila nepodnošljiva. Promet je bio lud i kaotičan. Pravila na cesti ne postoje, ljudi voze kuda stignu i trube neprestano. Dok prolazite gradom možete vidjeti i lijepe dijelove grada, ali vidite i puno dijelova koji su strašno prljavi. Ljudi leže na ulici, jedu na ulici, prodaju na ulici, a čak se i tuširaju na ulici na planini smeća.

Kaotične ceste Indije

U to vrijeme slavio se blagdan Ramazan. Tijekom Ramazana, Muslimani poste što znači da ne smiju ništa jesti, piti, pa čak ni vodu, sve dok je Sunce na nebu. Kada je Sunce zašlo, mogli smo uočiti kako na ulicama u isto vrijeme, svi koji slave, rasprostiru plahte na ulicu, stavljaju hranu i kreće večera.

Razmišljali smo o tome kako bi mi vjerojatno istog trena pokupili neku zarazu da jedemo s poda. Fascinantno je koliko je njihov organizam drugačiji od našeg, otporniji i prilagođen takvim uvjetima. Zanimljivo je također, za razliku od ostalih zemalja u Aziji koje smo posjetili, u Indiji se ustvari brinu da ulice budu koliko toliko počišćene. Kanta za smeće će biti bilo što samo da se smeće može negdje odložiti. U Indiji se mogao osjetiti napredak, moglo se osjetiti kako ljudi žele ići naprijed za ostalom civilizacijom. Unatoč tome, postoje ipak mnogi problemi koji još čekaju svoje rješenje, ali bitno je da se osjeti napredak.

Došlo je vrijeme da se pozabavimo s rezervacijom karata za vlak za sljedeće odredište. Naime, ljudi u Indiji rezerviraju svoje karte čak i mjesecima unaprijed, što nije čudno s obzirom da su mnogobrojni narod. Mi smo odlučili to napraviti dva dana unaprijed (“bravo mi!”). Odgovor koji nam je gospođa na šalteru dala je bio da sljedeći slobodan datum za rezervaciju je dostupan za mjesec dana. To je bila jedna opcija. Druga je bila pojaviti se za dva dana kada vlak kreće, i vidjeti je li netko odustao od svoje rezervacije. Proveli smo cijeli dan istražujući i kombinirajući što možemo napraviti. Na kraju smo došli do informacije kako ipak postoje slobodna mjesta u vlaku, no to je značilo voziti se u najnižoj klasi koja je postojala. S obzirom da smo avanturisti, jako nas je veselilo iskusiti opet nešto novo. Naravno, nismo bili ni svjesni kakva nas avantura u vlaku čeka.

Sljedeće odredište bio je grad Aurangabad.

Stigli smo na naš sretni vlak i nismo uopće znali što očekivati od najniže klase vlaka. Vožnja je trebala trajati 7 sati i koštala je samo 170 rupija, odnosno 17kn po osobi.

Prvo što smo uočili kada smo ušli je da nije bilo kupea, što je bilo očekivano. Sa svake strane prozora su bila po tri sjedala i ukupno ih je u jednom vagonu bilo oko devedeset. Imati komfor je bilo nemoguće s obzirom da su sjedala uska i stisnuta jedna uz drugo. Unatoč 24 ventilatora koja su bila na stropu i otvorenom prozoru, malo je reći da smo se kuhali od vrućine. Vagon se počeo popunjavati. Dolazile su obitelji s bebama, većom djecom, stariji ljudi, mladi ljudi. Bilo je ljudi svih uzrasta. Ljudi su bili glasni, ventilatori su bili glasni, djeca su vikala i skakala po sjedištima. Morali smo upotrijebiti čepiće za uši, ne radi spavanja nego zbog prejake buke. Na policama za prtljagu, koja se nalazi iznad glave, žene su zavezale maramu te im je služila kao njihalica za djecu. U vlakovima prije, kako sam i ranije pisala, niste mogli biti ni žedni ni gladni jer uvijek je netko nešto prodavao. No, u ovom vlaku mogli ste kupiti što god ste htjeli. Od hrane i pića pa sve do sladoleda, kolača, nakita, šminke, slušalica za mobitel, odjevnih predmeta, etui za vizitke, satova pa i odvijača. Na svakoj stanici ulazili su novi prodavači i odjednom je postalo kao da ste na nekom seoskom sajmu. Ti trenutci su bili stvarno kaotični ali i posebni, drugačiji i nešto potpuno novo za nas. Naravno da smo to htjeli zabilježiti fotografijama. Kada smo počeli fotkati po vlaku, ljudi su se počeli namještati, gurati se da budu na fotki. Neki su čak tražili od nas da ih zasebno fotografiramo. Odjednom je postalo toliko zabavno u vlaku. Ljudi su bili veseli i nekako prirodni. Osjetila se neka neopisiva ljudskost i povezanost među nama. Veselile su ih male stvari kao što je bilo fotografiranje. Bilo je ovo nešto što nikada nećemo zaboraviti.

 Prodavači u vlaku
                                                                                                                                 Njihaljke za djecu

Stigavši u Aurangabad, opsjeli su nas vozači taksija i vozači rikša vozila. Doslovno su se otimali tko će nas voziti jer su mislili da će na nama puno zaraditi jer smo turisti. U indiji je normalno da vam lupe visoku cijenu samo zato što ste turist. No isto tako je normalno da se u Indiji cijenkate za doslovno sve moguće, tako da je cijenkanje bila naša stvar, i priznajem, išlo nam je dobro. Ok, išlo je dobro Zvonimiru, ja sam bila slaba karika u tome. 🙂

Aurangabad je mali gradić, poznat po špiljama Ellora i Ajanta, koje su na UNESCO-vom popisu mjesta svjetske baštine. Ellora i Ajanta špilje su zapravo hramovi napravljeni i uklesani unutar stijene, te izgledaju spektakularno. Ellora predstavlja hram Budista, Hinduista i Jainista, dok Ajanta je samo hram Budista. Sagrađene su između 2. stoljeća prije Krista i 6. stoljeća poslije Krista.

Ono što je najviše fascinantno i neshvatljivo kod Ellore i Ajante je da su uklesane i izgrađene rukama pomoću čekića i sječiva. Kako je samo moguće da je ljudska ruka mogla sagraditi takav masivni objekt toliko precizno, pazeći na svaki detalj.
Pri posjeti Ellore i Ajante doživjeli smo zanimljive “susrete”. Naime, tokom razgledavanja Zvonimir i ja smo se na kratko odvojili pošto je on nešto htio fotografirati ja sam nastavila razgledavati okolo. U jednom trenutku oko mene se skupilo tridesetak Indijka i Indijaca, starijih i mladih. Svi su se htjeli fotografirati sa mnom. Bila sam zbunjena jer ne želih nikoga uvrijediti ali u jednom trenutku je postalo prenaporno. Doslovno se nisam mogla pomaknuti s mjesta jer su se ljudi samo izmjenjivali za fotku. U konačnici je došao Zvonimir te ih je morao “rastjerati”.
Ako se ikad odlučite ići u Indiju, budite spremni na to da će vas stalno tražiti za selfije.

                                                                                                                          Selfie time

U Aurangabadu smo se zadržali par dana duže zbog izvanrednih okolnosti. Naime, Zvonimir se otrovao hranom u jednom restoranu tako da mu je trebalo dva do tri dana oporavka. Bilo je gadno. Najbolje od svega toga pokazalo se osoblje Treebo Bagga International hotela, u kojem smo boravili. Cijelo vrijeme su se brinuli za Zvonimira, osigurali mu liječnika, lijekove i prikladnu prehranu. Swapnil i Gurpreet, menadžeri u hotelu, su se posebno pobrinuli za nas. Odveli su nas u bolnicu, proveli s nama cijeli dan i pomogli nam u svemu što je bilo potrebno. Oko osam sati provedenih u bolnici sprijateljili smo se s njima, slušali razne priče i zezali se. Sutradan, došli su do nas u hotelsku sobu te smo se svi zajedno družili. Zauvijek ćemo im biti zahvalni na svemu što su učinili za nas, a posebno na tome što su se ponašali prema nama kao da se znamo cijeli život.

Sljedeći dan krenuli smo na novo odredište, Udaipur, no ovoga puta smo išli autobusom jer je vlak bio cijeli rezerviran. Autobus je imao krevete za dvoje, bili su jako uredni i čisti. Za vrijeme vožnje dobijete vodu i kekse, što nam je bilo jako simpatično.

Vožnja je trajala oko 12 sati i nije bila nimalo ugodna. Autobus se toliko tresao cijelim putem, te smo imali osjećaj kao da se vozimo po makadamu 12 sati.

Stigli smo u Udaipur, grad jezera i arhitekture koja oduzima dah. Stigli smo u vrijeme kada se u gradu slavio pronalazak kipa njihovog boga koji je godinama bio ukraden. Stanovnici Udaipura napravili su slavlje koje je trajalo danima. Pridružili smo se slavlju, te su nam ljudi prilazili i pričali s nama. Htjeli su nam objasniti sve što se trenutno događa na slavlju. Ono što me kod tog naroda oduševljava je njihova otvorenost i znatiželja, uvijek prisutan osmijeh i skromnost, uvijek ti žele pomoći, čak i kada ih ne tražiš.

Vrijeme u Udaipuru smo provodili šetajući pokraj jezera, hramova oko kojih se ljudi okupljaju i ostavljaju cvijeće, hranu i voće zbog blagoslova. Većina zgrada, hramovi pa i obične kuće su prava umjetnost. Oslikana su raznim oblicima u raznim bojama, i to sve ručno.

Ono što uopće nije neuobičajeno u Indiji su krave na ulici. Krava je sveta životinja u Indiji i posvuda su prisutne. Pa tako i njihovi ostaci na cesti, ako znate na što mislim. Najnormalnije je vidjeti kravu u centru grada gdje prolaze auti.

Sljedeći dan trebali smo krenuti za grad Jaipur, no u međuvremenu se opet dogodila izvanredna situacija. Ovoga puta sam se ja otrovala hranom. Kako smo nakon Zvonimirovog trovanja hranom odlučili paziti da ne jedemo indijsku hranu i ništa začinjeno, odlučila sam se ovog puta jesti najobičniju pastu. Pasta ti ne može naškoditi, mislila sam, pa to je talijansko, europsko jelo. Začinjeno jelo u granicama normale jel? Ali kada ste u Indiji, onda granica začinjenosti prelazi sve granice normale. Moja hrana nije bila pokvarena nego začinjena s fak*n dvije kile češnjaka. Mogla sam osjetiti kako me želudac pekao. Završila sam sljedeće jutro u bolnici u kojoj sam provela punih 15 sati na infuziji. To jutro smo propustili vlak. No uspjeli smo ga rezervirati isti taj dan u ponoć. Oko 21.30 sati bila sam puštena iz bolnice i unatoč slabosti koju sam osjećala, morali smo se požuriti pokupiti stvari iz hotela i zaputiti se na željeznički kolodvor. Čim smo se smjestili u vlak, zaspali smo odmah i spavali u cijelosti do jutra, kada smo naposljetku stigli u Jaipur.

                                                                                                                            Udaipur

Jaipur, poznat po izradi nakita od dragog i poludragog kamena. Kada se nalazite u Jaipuru, prvo što osjetite je ekstremna vrućina koja vas doslovno prži. Preko dana temperature su preko 40 stupnjeva, a noću su i oko 36 stupnjeva. Drugo što primjetite su roze zgrade, zbog čega se Jaipur još naziva Pink City. Treća stvar su ulični marketi kojeg krase tekstili raznih šarenih boja. Krase ga i mnoge palače s nevjerojatnom arhitekturom. Najpoznatija palača koju smo posjetili je Amer Fort, smještena na brdu s prekrasnim pogledom na Jaipur. Napravljena od bijelog i crvenog kamena, sa toliko prekrasnih detalja predstavlja kombinaciju islamskog i hinduističkog stila gradnje. Za samo razgledavanje palače trebalo nam je oko tri sata, a imali smo i vodiča koji nam je uljepšao razgledavanje zanimljivim pričama vezanim za Amer Fort. Posjetili smo i Jantar Mantar, unikatnu zvjezdarnicu izgrađenu u 18. stoljeću koja je služila za promatranje zvijezda. Također je dio UNESCO-ve svjetske baštine.

Navečer smo vrijeme provodili šetajući po marketu, kada nam je prišao Indijac i pitao nas tražimo li suvenire, na što smo mu odgovorili potvrdno. Rekao nam je samo ”Pratite me”. To smo i učinili. Bila je noć, i lik nas je vodio nekim mračnim uličicama. Netko bi rekao da nismo normalni, i da, nije nam bilo svejedno i prošlo nam je glavom kako će nas odvesti negdje gdje će nas opljačkati ili, ne daj Bože, nešto gore. No u tim trenutcima, nalaziš se u takvoj situaciji i nemaš previše vremena za strah. Kada smo napokon došli na odredište, čekalo nas je troje Indijaca. U toj situaciji doslovno čekaš što će se sad dogoditi. A dogodilo se to da su nam se svi osmijehnuli i uveli nas u svoj dućan. Dućan u koji smo ulazili s oprezom i još uvijek nismo bili sigurni hoće li se nešto dogoditi. No onda smo ugledali nevjerojatne stvari. Dućan je bio pun dragog i poludragog kamenja. Bilo nam je jasno zašto se dućan nalazio sakriven od ostalih dućana i ljudi, zbog opasnosti od krađe. Pokazali su nam dijamante, emerald, safir, rubij, lapis, tiger eye i mnoge druge. Bilo je neobrađenih kamenja, ali i onih obrađenih u raznim oblicima i u nakitima. Oko nas je bila ogromna vrijednost, u rukama smo držali dijamante. Nismo mislili da će nas kamenja toliko fascinirati. A ono što je najviše fascinatno su niske cijene po kojima prodaju sve to.

Jaipur je neupitno bio jedan od najljepših gradova koje smo vidjeli u cijeloj Indiji.

Krenuli smo u Agru ili mjesto Taj Mahala. Posjet Indiji bio bi nepotpun ukoliko ne posjetite Taj Mahal, jedna od najpoznatijih i najljepših svjetskih građevina. Proglašen je jednim od novih sedam Svjetskih čuda, te je UNESCO-ov spomenik Svjetske baštine. Izgradio ga je mogulski vladar Džahan-šah, 1653. godine, kao spomen za svoju rano preminulu ženu. Za samu izgradnju bilo je potrebno čak dvadeset godina, a legenda kaže da je arhitekt Taj Mahala nakon izgradnje ubijen kako više nikada ne bi ponovio sličnu izgradnju. Također, zanimljivo je i to da Taj Mahal nazivaju i spomenikom ljubavi i da ustvari predstavlja grobnicu u kojem je osim njegove žene, naposljetku smješten i sam vladar.
U sred razgledavanja Agre naletili smo na jedan par iz Srbije i s njima proveli ostatak večeri. Svijet je stvarno mali.

                                                                                                                      Taj Mahal

Sljedećeg dana krenuli smo prema glavnom gradu Indije, New Delhi. Kaotičan i ubrzani grad, prepun siromaštva. Osjetila se znatna zagađenost zraka, sunce je pržilo i temperatura je bila preko 40 stupnjeva. Na željezničkom kolodvoru svi su se otimali za nas nudeći nam prijevoz. Odlučili smo se za prijevoz na biciklu na kojem smo oboje mogli sjesti zajedno sa našim ruksacima, a vozio nas je mršavi, iscrpljeni Indijac preliven znojem. Osjećala sam se neugodno gledajući ga kako nas vozi po tim neravnim uličicama. Znoj se cijedio s njega i bio je sav slabašan. Vožnja je trajala destak minuta i koštala je svega 5 kuna. Nevjerojatno! Ostavili smo mu više novaca i otišli s nekim grčem. Bilo nam je žao što sve ljudi rade za tako male novce. Ali to je jedna činjenica u Indiji. Ljudi će ovdje raditi bilo šta, samo da rade i privrjeđuju barem nešto. Vidjeli smo i ljude koji prose, ali puno više smo vidjeli ljudi koji će izmisliti posao kako bi preživjeli. Djeca prodaju kemijske i s očajem te mole da ih kupiš za 10 rupija.

New Delhi je bio jedan od zadnjih gradova koje smo trebali posjetiti i već smo osjećali iscrpljenost. Iz hotela smo izlazili kada bi se sunce malo spustilo jer je bilo nepodnošljivo vruće. Ulice Delhia su uvijek bile pune. Ljudi, krave, majmuni, štandovi s voćem… Ljudi su uvijek u nekom poslu, uvijek nešto rade na ulicama i ponekad sve to izgleda kao da nema ni smisla. Krave se šetaju po ulici, zaustavljaju promet i jedu smeće s ulice, dok majmune možete vidjeti kako skakuću po krovovima zgrada.

U New Delhiu nismo toliko posjećivali neke znamenitosti, nego je bilo zanimljivo samo šetati ulicama i uživati u svom tom kaosu.

Pred nama su bila još dva grada za posjetiti. Kako bismo uštedjeli na vremenu, avionom smo doputovali iz New Delhia do Amritsara.

Amritsar je poznat kao sveti grad religije Sikh. Sikizam je jedna od novijih religija, te oni vjeruju u jednog boga i odbacuju štovanje idola, iako neki od njih imaju slike deset gurua koje štuju. Kao Hinduisti i Budisti vjeruju u reinkarnaciju i karmu, a zabranjeno im je drogiranje, pušenje, pijenje alkohola i rezanje kose koju svaki Sikh mora sakriti ispod turbana.

Kada šetate Amritsarom možete vidjeti gomilu šarenih glava iliti turbana. Sikhi su nas se vrlo brzo dojmili, jako su dobre duše, nasmijani i uvijek žele pomoći.

Jedna od najpoznatijih turističkih atrakcija u Amritsaru je Zlatni hram koji se nalazi na jezeru, te je cijeli pokriven zlatom. Prilikom posjete hramu moraju se poštovati određena pravila. Obavezno je skidanje obuće te se ulazi bosim nogama. Prije ulaska moraš proći kroz mali bazen kako bi “oprao noge”. Moram samo napomenuti da tim bazenom prođe čak oko 100 000 ljudi dnevno, tako da nije previše higijenski. Prilikom ulaska vidjeli smo jednu ženu kako se polila po glavi tom vodom te ju popila. Ponekad religioznost u Indiji ide predaleko, barem za našu realnost. Drugo pravilo je da muškarci moraju nositi turbane u hramu kao što i žene moraju biti pristojno obučene te prekriti kosu maramom.

Nakon Zlatnog hrama razgledavali smo grad, pričali s prolaznicima koji bi nas zaustavili te se fotografirali, kako to inače biva u Indiji. U jednom trenutku mi je čak uletila jedna Indijka koja mi je uvalila svoju bebu i tražila da se tako slikam s njom i njenom obitelji.

                                                                                                            Golden Temple, Amritsar

Naše zadnje odredište, grad Varanasi. Cijelo putovanje po Indiji je kulturni šok, ali Varanasi je bio više od toga. Granice normalnog i svetog ovdje dosežu daleko izvan naše mašte.

Varanasi je sveti grad hinduista smješten na svetoj rijeci Ganges. Kulturni je i vjerski centar za kojeg se smatra da ga je osnovao bog Šiva.

Jedna od najvećih atrakcija u Varanasiju je svakako rijeka Ganges ili Majka Ganga kako ju nazivaju vjernici. Upravo na ovoj rijeci iskusili smo najveći kulturni šok. Ganges rijeka okuplja mnoštvo hodočasnika diljem Indije koji se dolaze moliti rijeci i prisutovati obredima. Hinduisti vjeruju u svetost rijeke te da ona ispire sve grijehe i čisti dušu. Pored rijeke vrše se kremiranja umrlih, te smo i sami prisustovali i vidjeli vlastitim očima taj događaj. Prije nego se tijelo kremira, uranja se u Ganges kako bi isprala sve grijehe te se potom tijelo spaljuje. Poslije kremiranja, pepeo se polaže u Ganges. Za kremiranje je potrebno drvo, gdje je kilogram drveta oko 7 kuna, te nemaju svi novaca kako bi kupili dovoljnu količinu drva. Zbog toga se često dešava da tijela ne sagore cijela te se preostali dijelovi bacaju u rijeku Ganges. Također, običaj je ukoliko trudnica umre da se njeno tijelo ne kremira nego se jednostavno baci u rijeku. Uz sve to mnogo raznog smeća završi upravo u toj rijeci.

E sad, ukoliko vam ovo nije bilo dovoljno šokantno, sljedeća činjenica svakako će biti. Naime, u toj istoj rijeci, ljudi, živi ljudi, se kupaju kako bi očistili svoje duše. Ne samo to, piju tu vodu, peru zube, peru prljavi veš, mole se rijeci i meditiraju u njoj.
Zar je moguće da tako nešto se stvarno događa, pitam se i danas nakon što sam to sve vidila vlastitim očima.

                                                                                                             Ceremonija kremiranja
                                                                                                              Kupanje u rijeci Ganges
                                                                                                     Kravice na cesti – boli ih briga 🙂

Varanasi je bio prava Indija. Krava je bilo više nego igdje u Indiji. Ponekad su šetale ispred našega hotela. Ali najsmiješnija prizor je bio kada su dvije krave legle na cestu na najvećem raskrižju i zaustavile promet sa svih strana. Rikše su trubile, ali krave se nisu dale. Izgledale su kao da ih previše ne brinu trube i ljudi sa svih strana. Naposljetku su došli policajci koji su štapovima pokušavali otjerati krave. Sama akcija tjeranja krava nije bila lagana i trebalo im je dosta vremena. Mi smo sa strane stajali i gledali cijelu predstavu. Iako šokantno, umirali smo od smijeha.

Ovdje je završilo naše putovanje. Nevjerojatna indija, najmnogoljudnija zemlja i zemlja duhovnosti. Nije lako opisati Indiju. Ovdje se ne dolazi radi razgledavanja znamenitosti, ovdje se dolazi zbog ljudi, običaja, osjećaja potpuno drugačijeg.

Nije ju lako zavoljeti i nije za svakoga ali uđe vam pod kožu i tu ostaje zauvijek.

We arrived in Mumbai at 10 PM. Traditional and modern city, with poor and rich. Glamorous and miserable. The center of the Bollywood film industry. Continuous energy. Loud, tough and dirty city. You either love it or hate it. When we arrived, Mumbai train station was overwhelmed with people. They were everywhere. Despite that, Zvonimir and I were popping up from the crowd. People were watching us the whole time. Some Indian guy approached us and just stared at us. He finally spoke to me asking if I want to have coffee with him, even though Zvonimir was next to me. He left and returned shortly with two girls who were literally amazed by us. We didn’t always know to deal with those circumstances because we didn’t have any similar situations ever. However, we always tried to be friendly because we found Indian people like really kind people.

Uber took us to the hotel. It was almost midnight, and the streets were full of people. Traffic was chaotic. Everybody honked. When we finally arrived at our hotel, it looked scary. It looked like some abandoned building and cables were hanging from the ceiling. We went up and all of a sudden it seemed like we transport to heaven. It was nice and clean. From our hotel window, we saw the street full of people and could hear honks. The honks became an integral part of our journey through India.

We spent three days In Mumbai. It was a difficult three days. It was almost impossible to see the city. The heat was unbearable. The traffic was crazy and chaotic. There are no road rules and people driving crazy. All you can hear is honking all the time. Walking through the city, you can see beautiful parts filled with nature, old buildings, but you can also see a lot of dirty parts. People lie down, eating, selling, and even showering on the street.

At that time, Muslim people celebrated the Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting, and that mean they may not eat or drink anything including water while the sun is shining. When the sun went down, we noticed that at the same time, everybody who celebrate, put white sheets on the streets with food and started dinner. We were thinking about how we would probably immediately picked up a disease if we eat from the floor, and what’s fascinating is how their organism different from ours and so much more resistant and adapted to these conditions. What is also interesting is, unlike the other countries in Asia that we visited, in India people really caring about street cleanliness. It’s not perfect, especially in big cities, but they are really trying to clean their streets as much as possible. In India, you can feel progress and how people want to go forward. There are still problems waiting for a solution, but it’s important to see the improvement.

It was time to deal with the train ticket reservation for our next destination. In fact, people in India book their tickets months in advance, which is not surprising considering so many people. We decided to do it two days in advance. Lady at the counter told us that the next available date for reservation is for one month. That was one option, and the second was to show up on the departure day to see if someone gave up on their reservations. We spent the entire day exploring and combining what we can do. In the end, we found out there are still free places on the train, but it’s meant to drive in the lowest class that existed. Considering we’re adventurers, we were excited to experience something new again.

Our next destination was Aurangabad. We didn’t know what to expect from the lowest train class. The ride lasted 7 hours, and it cost us 170 rupees which are 3 dollars. When we walked in, the first thing we noticed there weren’t compartment what we expected. There were ninety seats in one wagon. Having comfort was impossible since there were connected narrow seats. Despite 24 fans that were on the ceiling and open windows it was just too hot. Wagon began to fill out. There were families with their babies and children, older people, young people. There were people of all ages. People were loud, the fans were loud, and the kids were screaming and jumping on seats. We had to use earplugs, not because we wanted to sleep but because of the loud noise.  On the storage shelve, above the head, women tied up a scarf and put their babies in it so they can swing them. As I mentioned, you can’t be hungry because there are always sellers with food. Unlike other trains, here you could buy whatever you want. They were selling food and drinks, ice cream, cakes, jewelry, makeup, headset, clothing, light case for business cards, watches and screwdrivers. At every next station, were new sellers and it’s suddenly become like you’re at a big street market. That was chaotic but special and different. Zvonimir shot some photos on a train. While he shot, people also asked for a separate one. We had fun and everybody smiling. We felt indescribable humanity and connection among us. We will never forget this train ride.

                                                                                                      Do you need socks? – Sellers on a train
                                                                                                                          Can you find me?

After arriving in Aurangabad, rickshaw drivers were fighting who will drive us to our hotel. They were expecting more money because we’re tourists. In India, you do bargain. Drivers will always try to put high prices just because you’re a tourist. We bargained all the time and were good at it. Ok, Zvonimir was good at it. Me, not so much. Aurangabad is famous for the caves of Ellora and Ajanta, which are on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Ellora and Ajanta are temples carved in the rock and look spectacular. Ellora represents a temple of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jainist, while Ajanta is a Buddhist temple.

The most fascinating and unintelligible thing about Ellora and Ajanta is that the temples were carved and constructed using only hands, hammers, and blades. How is it possible that only a human hand could build such a massive object so accurately, paying attention to every detail. At Aurangabad, we stayed a few days longer due to extraordinary circumstances. Zvonimir got food poisoning, so he needed two to three days of recovery. It was really bad. Best of all was the hotel staff where we stayed, in Treebo Bagga International hotel. The whole time they cared for him, ensure him a doctor, medications and a proper diet. Swapnil and Gurpreet, managers at the hotel, were especially taken care of us. They took us to the hospital and spent the entire day with us and helped us in everything that was needed. After eight hours spent in the hospital, we became friends with them. The next day we spend some more time with them and had fun together. We will forever be grateful for everything they have done for us, and especially on the fact that they behaved towards us as they know us the whole life.

The next day we were on our way to a new destination, Udaipur. This time we went by bus because the train was all booked. We had beds in a bus and was very neat and clean. During the ride, you get water and cookies, which was very cute. The ride lasted about 12 hours and wasn’t that enjoyable. The bus was bouncing the whole trip, and we felt like we were on the macadam road for 12 hours.

We arrived in Udaipur, the city of lakes and breathtaking architecture. At that time Udaipur was celebrating the finding of their God statue, which have been stolen for years. The ceremony lasted for days. We joined the celebration and people were coming to talk to us. We really liked how people are open and curious, always smiling, modest and helpful.

In Udaipur, we spent our time walking by the lakes, temples around which people gather and leave flowers, food, and fruit for the blessing. Most of the buildings, temples and even ordinary houses are real art. Different shapes are painted in various colors all by hands. A really normal thing in India are the cows on the streets. The cow is a sacred animal in India. You can see them everywhere and so their “remains” on the road if you know what I mean. We could often see a cow in the center of the city where cars drive all the time. The next day, we were excited to go to Jaipur. But, in the meantime, it happened an extraordinary situation, again. I got food poisoning because my pasta had two kilos of garlic. I could feel my stomach is burning. The next morning I ended up in the hospital where I spent a full 15 hours on an infusion. That morning, we missed the train. But we managed to reserve it that same day at midnight. Around 10 PM I was released from the hospital and despite the weaknesses that I felt we had to hurry to pick up things from the hotel and head to the train station. As soon as we settled into the train, we fell asleep immediately and slept in its entirety until the morning, when we finally arrived in Jaipur.

Jaipur, known for making jewelry from precious and semi-precious stones. When you are in Jaipur, the first thing you feel is the extreme heat. During the day, the temperature is over 40 degrees, and at night it’s around 36 degrees. The second thing you notice is the pink buildings, which is why Jaipur is also called the Pink City. The third thing is street markets with all kind of souvenirs and colorful textiles. Jaipur has an incredible architecture. The most famous palace that we visited is Amer Fort, situated on a hill with a beautiful view of the Jaipur. Made of white and red stone with so many incredible details which are a combination of the Islamic and Hindu style of architecture. It took us about three hours to look around the palace, and we had a guide who made our tour interesting with stories related to Amer Fort.

We also visited Jantar Mantar, a unique Astronomical Observatory, built in the 18th century which was used for the observation of the stars. It’s also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. We spent our evening time walking through the markets when some Indian guy approached us. He asked us if we’re looking for souvenirs because he has beautiful stuff and we were interested. He told us to follow him. And that’s what we did. It was nighttime, and we were walking through dark streets. Someone would have said that we are crazy, and yeah, we were confused and thought about how he will take us somewhere where he is going to rob us or something worse. But in those moments, you’re in a situation where you don’t have too much time for fear. When we finally arrived at the destination, there were three Indian guys, waiting for us. We were confused about the whole situation and didn’t know what is happening. They smiled and walked us into their store. We entered with caution and still weren’t sure whether something would happen to us. But then we saw the most amazing things. The store was full of precious and semi-precious stones. We realized why the store was hidden from the rest of the stores and people, due to the risk of theft. They showed us diamonds, emerald, sapphire, ruby, lapis, tiger eye, and many others. There was untreated and treated stones jewelry. The store has a high value and on our hands were diamonds. We never thought stones could fascinate us so much. The most surprising is the low price of precious stones.

Jaipur is unquestionably one of the most beautiful cities that we have seen in the whole of India.

After Jaipur, we went to Agra, the place of the Taj Mahal. Visiting India wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Taj Mahal. One of the most famous and the world’s most beautiful buildings is definitely Taj Mahal. Belongs to the new Seven Wonders of the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage monument. It was built by Mongol emperor Shah Jahan-Shah, in 1653., as a memorial for his early deceased wife. Making Taj Mahal lasted twenty years. The legend says that architect of the Taj Mahal murdered after construction so he could never repeat a similar architecture. It’s interesting that the Taj Mahal is known as a monument of love and it represents the tomb in which, aside from his wife, he is also sited after his death.

                                                                                                                            Taj Mahal

The next day we headed towards the capital city of India, New Delhi. Chaotic and rapid city, full of poverty. The temperature was over 40  degrees. We could sense pollution. We decided to go for a ride on a “bicycle” on which we both could sit down together. The man who drove us was skinny, exhausted and sweat-covered. We felt so bad for him to drive us through these rough streets. The sweat was dripping out of him. The ride lasted ten minutes and cost less than one dollar. We were sad what kind of things people have to do for a small amount of money. We’ve seen people begging for money, but we’ve seen more people are doing all kind of jobs to survive. Children sell pens with desperation and praying to buy them for less than ten cents.

New Delhi was one of our last cities we visited. We’ve already felt exhaustion. The heat was unbearable. We would go out of the hotel when the sun went down. Delhi’s streets are full of people, cows, monkeys and other. People always work on something on the streets and sometimes seems like it doesn’t even make sense. Cows are everywhere, stopping traffic and eating street garbage and monkeys jumping across the rooftops of buildings. In New Delhi, we enjoyed walking on the streets and in all that chaos.

In front of us were two more cities to visit. To save some more time, we took a plane from New Delhi to Amritsar. Amritsar is known as the Holy City of the Sikh religion. Sikhism is one of the newer religion, and they believe in one God and reject the worship of idols, even though some of them have pictures of the ten gurus they worship. Like Hindus and Buddhists, they believe in reincarnation and karma and are prohibited from consuming drugs, smoking and drinking alcohol. Also, every Sikh has to hide their hair under the turban. Walking around Amritsar you can see a bunch of colorful turbans.

Sikhs are good souls, always smiling and helpful. One of the most popular tourist attraction in Amritsar is the Golden Temple, whole covered with gold and located on the lake. There are some rules you have to respect when visiting the temple. Before entering you have to take off your shoes and go through a small pool to “wash” your feet. I just have to mention that through the pool pass around 100 000 people a day, so it’s not too hygienic. When we were entering, we saw one Indian woman splashed the pool water over her head and then drank it. The second rule required from men to wear turbans in the temple and women must be decently dressed, and cover their head. After visiting the Golden Temple, it was nice to walk through the city and talk to people.

                                                                                                                       Colorful Amritsar

Our last destination was Varanasi. The entire trip across India is a culture shock, but  Varanasi was more than that. The limits of the normal and the holy reaching far beyond our imagination. Varanasi is a Holy City of Hindus located by the Holy Ganges river. It’s a cultural and religious center, and they believe Varanasi was established by the God Shiva.

One of the biggest attractions in Varanasi is surely the River Ganges or Mother Ganges. On this river, we experienced the biggest culture shock. Ganges River gathers a multitude of pilgrims across India who come to pray to the river and attend ceremonies. Hindus believe in the Ganges holiness. They believe that the Ganges cleanses away sins and cleanse the soul. Right next to the River are happening cremation of the dead where we attended and saw with our own eyes that event. Before the body is cremated, they dive body into the waters of the Ganges to wash away all sins. After cremation, they strew ashes on the waters of the Ganges. Cremation requires wood, where a kilo of wood is around 7 dollars, and not everybody has the money to buy a sufficient amount of wood for cremation.

It often happens that the body doesn’t burn completely and the remaining body parts are thrown into the river. Some people told us if a pregnant woman dies, her body doesn’t get cremated, they throw it in the river. In addition to that, different kinds of garbage end up in the river. Now, if this weren’t enough, the next shocking facts will surely be. In that same river, people take a bath to clean their soul. Not only that, they’re drinking the water, they’re brushing their teeth, wash their laundry, praying to the river and meditate in it. Is it really possible that something like that is really happening? I still wonder even though I saw it all with my own eyes.

Varanasi was the real India. We saw cows more than anywhere else in India. Sometimes they walked in front of our hotel. But the most ridiculous scene was when the two cows lie down on the road at the crossing and stopped traffic on all sides. People were honking, but cows didn’t care much.  Finally, police officers came with their sticks and were trying to move cows. It wasn’t easy. We were on the side and watched the whole show. Although shocking, we were dying of laughter.

                                                                                                                                River Ganges
                                                                                                                               Cremation stand
                                                                                                                    Streets of Varanasi

This was the end of our journey. Incredible India, the most populous country and a country of spirituality. It’s not easy to describe India. You don’t come here for sightseeing, you come because of the people, culture and completely different feeling. India is hard and not for everyone, but when it gets under the skin stays there forever.

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