India - The Good & The Not So Great - manaliphotography.com
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India – The Good & The Not So Great

February 19, 2019

India-042
I’m Manali
Brand photographer & educator based out of Northern VA & DC. When I'm not behind a camera or teaching about systems, you'll find me at a vineyard with wine & cheese or cuddled with my cat Keegan on our cozy couch!
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Recapping all of my India trip would be quite A LOT so I started keeping track of my favorite and least favorite parts of visiting my parents hometown of Thane, India about an hour outside of Mumbai. My mom and I were there for about 2 whole weeks so I definitely got a taste for what it’s like! Here’s a little bit of what I loved and what I wasn’t as big a fan of!

THINGS I LOVED

1. FAMILY – Getting to see my family that I hadn’t seen in about five and a half years!! It’s nice to see and understand better how my parents grew up and the family, traditions & values that they were raised with.

1. CITY BUSTLE – I loved the vivacious and colorful street life that peppered every day! There’s constantly a buzz of rickshaws driving by, a street vendor yelling to sell food, shops for everything and anything around each corner!

2. ANIMAL LIFE – I love how animals and people live side by side even in a crowded city! There’s a crow that comes to eat at our kitchen window every day, my grandpa confuses pigeons by making pigeon noises & has mini “conversations” with them, I have such nostalgia for the sight of bats flying around at dusk, and am always surprised to find kittens walking on top of roofs every day.

3. THE WEATHER – I’ve visited India at least a handful of times before but this was my first time not coming the summer season of Monsoon which is NOT my ideal type of weather. Think raining every day, dirt & potholes everywhere because it’s constantly raining and so humid you FEEL wet even when you’re dry. NOT A FAN. But this time it was their winter which is like an absolute DREAM with temperatures in the 60’s through 80’s and not a drop of rain and no humidity!

4. TANDOORI CHAI – So despite being Indian and growing up with it, I’m not a huge fan of chai. I always got smack for this from my best friend but I definitely have to admit that I drank so much chai over coffee in India since people know how to do chai really well (and the coffee was not very strong)! If you ever cross a place that sells Tandoori Chai, you absolutely have to try it!!

5. RICKSHAWS – OK, I have a love hate relationship with these so you’ll have to read bullet number 4 below as well. BUT it’s super cool how you can get around the city for super cheap compared to any transportation in the States! That being said, make sure you know how to navigate where you’re going by landmark (they don’t really use street names here) or else you’ll go for quite a ride and end up paying double what you should have.

6. SMALL BUSINESSES – There’s SO many different stores, a lot of which are local and locally owned and run! There’s not a whole lot of chains peppering the streets, at least near where I live which makes for such a unique shopping experience! Also, people come straight to your door to sell things like fresh veggies, milk, and eggs, how convenient is that?! 

Also, the trip proved how much I really love working on my own business! I definitely rested a lot but also found myself super inspired to get some good blogging in during my downtime!

7. COST OF GOODS – I loved how affordable everything here is compared to the States! I loved living in Arlington but often would cut back on expenses as to not have additional costs pile up on top of already expensive rent. This made it hard for me to feel like I could really experience everything the city has to offer but it’s quite the opposite over here!

THIGNS I WAS NOT A FAN OF

1. COFFEE – Strong coffee was not a concept here and I really miss a good cup of joe!

2. BUGS – Gonna be straight up and say that there were a TON of cockroaches that came out at night at the place I was staying!! I’m generally okay with bugs after a bit of history with them but this was a LOT of cockroaches crawling over EVERYTHING and I had to make sure I kept things like my toothbrush and contact lens and stuff tucked away neatly out of reach. My mom and I became best friends with a spray that we would spray along the walls to ward them off (which we realize is not the healthiest to breathe in). Just keeping it very real here.

3. SCOOTERS / RICKSHAWS – Great to get around in, but NOT GREAT when they DRIVE ON THE SIDEWALKS!!! The road that my mom’s house is on is a major road and during rush hour traffic scooters would literally drive over the sidewalks WHILE people were walking on them to get around! NOT COOL. Also, I almost got run over multiple times by rickshaws & they drive STRAIGHT at you during rush hours, lanes are just not a concept!

4. POLLUTION – A BIG issue, made worse by the dust that covered everything due to roads being reconstructed. There’s definitely a push against plastic bags there and making the city clean BUT at the same time there’s a lot of places that will light a fire to their trash IN THE STREETS sending toxic fumes everywhere! Also, noise pollution is a thing. People honk to let each other know they’re driving by or to ward off pedestrians from strolling across the road so there’s A LOT of honking.

5. POVERTY – It’s definitely reduced a lot from what I remember the last couple of times I’ve visited but it DEFINITELY still exists everywhere. It’s super humbling to see slum areas and how little people live on and is a constant reminder to be grateful and thankful for what you have in life.

That’s it for now! If you liked reading this, definitely check out these travel posts as well!

Dubai Part One
Dubai Part Two
New Orleans & NYC Recap

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