The beautiful Taj Mahal
I was remiss in January, after returning from a fabulous trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and four different areas of India to share my thoughts about the trip. Nearly a year late, here is a thumbnail of what I saw and how I was affected by it.
People often think of India as a country plagued by illness or disease and way too many people. I have to admit that the traffic in Mumbai (with about 16 million people) was daunting. Particularly scary (but also kind of fun) was riding in a three-wheeled vehicle in traffic that seemed to be controlled by the incessant honking of horns. However, the malls in many cities were too much like that found in US cities and included brand names any American pre-teen would recognize and gravitate to. I preferred indigenous Indian fare, which I found more interesting.
This picture shows thousands of people walking to and from the area where we were required to remove our shoes. It was holiday-time and I suspect that the Taj Mahal is visited by as many people throughout the year. The architecture was spectacular inside and out.
Also of interest to me was the museum exploring Mahatma Gandhi’s life work, housed in the home in which he was born in Mumbai. I learned of his views and read his writings–many opinions far ahead of his time, including his views on the importance of equality for women in a society where it was rarely practiced during his lifetime.
A Western-educated person might assume that the major inventions and scientific breakthroughs occurred in the European cities and those, more recently, in North America. I learned that major mathematical understandings were written about in India three thousand years earlier! Why were they not shared with the rest of the world? My theory is that such sharing did not move from south to north, but rather from east to west.
India has a burgeoning middle class that has spurred major changes throughout this huge country. Not least among the changes is the elimination in the last 18 months of endemic poliomyelitis, which for so many years was a scourge, paralyzing thousands and killing many of its victims. Only three countries throughout the world are still plagued by this preventable disease. India is no longer one of them.
Would I return? Yes! It’s a country far too large to see in one visit, even one of several weeks. My advice? Limit yourself to a few key cities and spend several days in each, the better to enjoy the unique flavors of the foods in each area and the many sites that truly reflect the culture.