If you’ve read any of my last few posts, you’d know that I just came home from a trip to India. I went with my university, in a group of 12 other students and three staff members, visiting well-known media outlets and getting to meet some of their most well respected journalists.
Media visits aside, I also had the chance to experience the amazing culture that is India. While I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot in my life, I’ve never been to somewhere as diverse and culturally different to Australia as India. It truly is like stepping into a whole other world.
It’s a confronting difference at first. The heat and humidity knocks you around, and the poverty is raw and completely in your face. It’s hard to be faced with such extreme differences, and it really has made me realise how incredibly lucky I am to live where I do, and have what I have.
I’ve chosen to simply write down a few highlights of my trip overall, rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of the entire three weeks, because nobody got time for that. I’ve included some photos, too!
I suppose this was always going to be in my trip highlights, but the beauty of the Taj truly is breathtaking. The whole grounds of the palace are a sight to see, but walking through and laying my eyes on the Taj for the first time was absolutely incredible. The Taj Mahal was build because a man was so devastated by his wife’s death that he built her something so grand she ‘could see it from heaven’. The inside of the building is actually deceptively small, and with the extreme heat and the amount of people pushed in there it was incredibly uncomfortable. Despite this, the whole trip was just so beautiful, and to be able to see one of the amazing wonders of the world is something that I am very thankful for.
The academic side of my trip was so incredibly interesting (a lot more than I anticipated, to be honest)! To be able to see a media industry that is just so different to Australia’s was such a wonderful opportunity, and it was so interesting to meet their best journalists and to hear their thoughts on the changing face of media both in India and worldwide. It was so strange that their print industry is just growing, whereas ours is in dire need of help, and to see a country where social media is only just taking hold was just absolutely fascinating. A really good chance to gain some perspective on worldwide media.
Gurdwara Bangla Sahib
One of the most amazing experiences of my trip was getting the chance to have lunch at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, the main Sikh temple in New Delhi. We were able to take a walk through the temple and see the members of Sikh faith during prayer (one of the loudest and most colourful things I’ve ever seen!), receive the offering of Karah Parshad (a sweet made of semolina and ghee), and finally take a tour through their kitchen. The temple serves meals to 20,000+ people per day, and the concept behind it is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. The food comes from donations, and every single person who helps to make the meals – from peeling garlic cloves to rolling roti to serving rice – is a volunteer. Anyone is able to come and receive a meal, regardless of their race, religion or background. The philosophy of the meal is simple: “eat until you are full, but waste nothing”. I even saw a lady get turned away as she tried to leave because there was a mouthful of rice left on her plate! Around 400 people all sat on the floor together, and we were all just felt so welcomed and equal to everyone. It was an incredibly humbling experience, and one that I think will stick with me for a very long time.
Food + Drink
The food…oh, sweet baby cheeses THE FOOD. Curries, naan, rice, roti, Gulab Jamun, fresh lime soda, chutney, masala tea…everything was absolutely perfect. Toward the end of my trip I definitely got a bit over 2/3 meals of each day being curry and naan, but now I’m home it’s all I want. It’s like I’m having garlic naan withdrawals, and the symptoms are bad. I swear I smelt it at the shops yesterday, and my brain went into an absolute frenzy. I consumed so much masala tea that I felt like I was made of spices, and ate so many carbs that I was permanently bloated, but I just did not care at all. Everything was so beautiful and full of flavour and I now feel as though no curry at home will ever compare to the delicious ones I was eating over there.
While the media visits were the main focus of the trip, I definitely did get the chance to have an equal balance of learning and culture, and the trip honestly couldn’t have been any more perfect (maybe with the exception of the malaria tablet reaction). I was with the most amazing group of individuals (shout out to Maya for the genius that is #sarinotsari), and am beyond grateful that I was able to undertake this as part of my degree.
Have you been to India? How did you find it?