the wonderful world of veena.

02 May 2012

veena's 11 reasons to visit india.

[warning: super long post to follow. I got a bit carried away]

Obviously I have more than 11 reasons to visit India. We all know this. But I'm going with 11 because of a recent article on matador network that gave that many reasons. And while all of theirs are certainly valid - in fact, I look forward to doing many of those things in just one short month - I thought I would add my own reasons for visiting India.

1. the people. you've heard of Southern hospitality. well, Indian hospitality is like Southern hospitality on crack. within minutes of meeting an Indian, you have become part of their family. you are invited for dinner, for weddings and christenings, for family celebrations of all shapes and colours. and no family personifies this quite like the Devaraj family. from the time I met them nearly 7 years ago, they've held me in their grasp. their ability to love, to inspire, to support, and to entertain can never adequately be described. I can't wait to slum around their houses so very soon.

[this isn't even all of them. oh, how I love them]
and I must also give a special shout-out to my other adopted family, the Josephs. they are very similar to the Devarajs, except on a much smaller - and quieter - scale.

and did I mention how well you get fed once you've been adopted? because it's awesome.

2. the special hideaways. everyone knows Goa is the place to go. it's got the beaches, it's got the clubs, it's got all the foreigners. well, the real secret is that,  while Goa is pretty cool and all [south Goa, that is], Gokarna is really where it's at. only one of the four beaches is accessible by road, there's no trance music, and people pretty much leave you to your own devices. if you're feeling especially adventurous, you can trek around the cliff to get to even more secluded beaches. and if you make friends with Ganesh Bhai, he'll hook you up with some Old Monk.

[this is one of my favourites from my trip with Rob, Ellie, and Ani. photo credit must go to the fabulous Anita Joseph]

[on the trek from Om to Half Moon]
3. the food. my mouth waters at the endless opportunities. chili pork at Pecos. gobi manchurian anywhere. mutton fry at Kentacky. meals at Nandhini. sev puri from a roadside stand. pork at Wild Spice. chicken ghee roast and seer fry at Coast to Coast. chicken shawarma at Empire. sheekh kebab at Fanoo's. something-or-other wrapped in bacon at Plan B. and this is only in Bangalore. it doesn't include the fish meals in Manipal. or the tiger prawns in Goa. or the spicy pork in Coorg. or all the Punjabi goodness in north India. or all the homemade goodness when you make friends with the people mentioned in #1. oh, the food.

[lunch at Nandhini the weekend before I left. yum]
4. arguing with auto drivers. this is one of my favourite past-times in India, and something I think every visitor to the country should experience. it's just so much fun to yell at them when they try to overcharge you or take you the wrong way. it's so satisfying when they realize that even though you sound like a foreigner, you actually know where you're going and how to get there. it's almost like a rite of passage.

5. kicking men out of ladies' seats on buses. another favourite past-time. the men like to look out the window or pretend they're asleep when women get on the bus so they won't have to get up, but I march right up to them and cause a scene until they move. it's super fun. what's even more fun is when my interns build up the confidence to do it also. there's nothing quite like seeing the looks on the men's faces when they're getting yelled at by a white girl on the bus.

6. seeing the country by train. India has such beautiful scenery, and the best way to see as much of it as possible is to travel by train from place to place. it's such an experience. you make friends with random people on the train and get fed by them, you get to eat what I think is some of the best food in the country, and you get to see breathtaking sights, all while saving money, because it's also the cheapest way to travel. win-win-win, all the way around.

[somewhere on the way from Bangalore to Goa]

[also on the way from Bangalore to Goa]

[on the way from Bangalore to Ernakulam]
7. the sights. obviously. in the nearly 5 years I lived in India, I was lucky enough to get to see a lot of the famous - and a few not-so-famous - places. but there are still more to go. yet-to-be-seen - the Golden Temple, the Ganges, the Himalayas, Ajanta and Ellora, the temples of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Auroville, Udaipur's lake palace...the list goes on. But here are a few that I have seen:

[Victoria Memorial in Kolkata]

[the Hawa Mahal. remind me to tell you the story of Dimple and the windows another day]

[Jaisalmer fort]

[Thar desert]

[Badri Ghat in Pushkar]

[Taj Mahal. in case you were wondering]

[Krishna's butterball in Mahaballipuram. and no, we didn't actually move it. sad]

[17-meter tall monolith in Shravanabelagola. only takes you 612 steps to get up to it. Indians love their stairs]

[Irpu Waterfall in Coorg]

[tea fields in Munnar, Kerala]

[the reservoir near Dabguli]

[Savan Durga]

[Hanuman Temple in Hampi]
8. volunteering with Peace Child India. yes, this is a shameless plug. but for me, working with Peace Child was one of the best experiences of my life. I got to meet amazing people from all over the world, I got to live in what I think is the best city in India, and I got to work with some of the most inspiring children I've ever met. it's a wonderful experience, and one that changed my life. even if you don't volunteer for Peace Child, look into other organizations that are doing fantastic work in India and see if you can help them. it takes so little to do so much in India that it's a shame not to. ok, shameless plug over.

9. for the experience of crossing a road in a country where traffic rules don't exist. you've never really lived until you've tried it. I would always forget that interns weren't used to the traffic, and I'd be across and halfway down the other side before I realized they were still standing, knees knocking together, trying to decide when to cross. my advice? don't wait for a break in traffic, because there won't be one. crossing in front of motorbikes and autos is easiest, as they can swerve around you. cars are trickier, you have to use your judgment a bit more. never cross in front of buses or lorries, as I'm convinced they speed up to hit you on purpose. welcome to India, where pedestrians most certainly do not have the right-of-way.

10. to hang out with my third-born. yes, she gets her own section. she gave me the kick in the ass I needed 5 years ago when I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with my life. she has the ability to crack me up even as I tear my hair out in frustration. she's got the greatest laugh you'll ever hear. she loves fiercely, and if you're lucky enough to earn her love, she'll never turn her back on you. she's been my rock through the last 3 months of emotional upheaval and turmoil, patiently listening to me cry my eyes out via Skype and offering words of advice, of wisdom, of support, and especially of distraction. she's my third-born. you should really go and meet her.

[from the Christmas Carnival at the Boys' Home, December 2010]

[on one of my many jaunts to Manipal to make sure she was eating properly. Twist brings out the best in people]

[probably my favourite. exclamations of how pretty the other one is]

[fighting over food. as always]

[more crazy times in Manipal. I think in this one we were laughing at / being embarrassed for Nit]

[isn't she stunning?]

[first trip to Gokarna together. swimming in the sea until 4am]

[hanging out on the shores of Malpe]

[at Maia and Iona's christening]
11. Old Monk. ha! saved the best for last.

If these aren't reason enough for you to travel to India, I don't know what is.
And I'll be back in a month! #31daysneverfeltsolong


  1. my dear veena,

    my dear sis in law pointed out ur blog to me and i have to say...thank you for putting it in words. you have spoken out of my heart and those are indeed 11 very very good reasons to visit india...
    and the funny thing is i have done most of the things u mentioned in ur reasoning...
    also currently in bangalore and enjoying every bit of it
    greetings from a fellow fan from germany

  2. Vandana, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm so glad to hear that someone is enjoying these crazy posts as much as I am enjoying writing them. I hope you are enjoying your time in Bangalore - be sure to say hi to Pecos and Guzzlers for me if you have time to drop in either place!


  3. Stop justifying your visit! And start with 11 reasons to move to India! ;)