Culture, Colour, Perspective and Delhi belly.

  • By Shelley Bothma

Culture, Colour, Perspective and Delhi belly.


'My lungs are on fire!' - my first words in India. The air was so hot and humid, it felt like inhaling pure steam. Not a stranger to heat, being from Durban South Africa but even to me this was staggering.

We sat on the pavement outside the Mumbai International Airport, bags under bottoms to avoid making skin contact with the searing concrete. Excited and slightly apprehensive about this adventure. Two months in India, touring over 15 different cities. It was my first time overseas and away from my usual luxuries - that we all take so for granted. We met our bus driver who, hardly competent in English (which is a lot more than I could say for myself in his native Hindi) signaled for us to hurry up. We traveled through the streets which all seemed to blur into each other. An array of poverty, litter and roaming cows yet all that your eyes were drawn to was the happiness on the faces of the kids playing soccer with an empty Coca Cola bottle or the moms with vibrant coloured saris selling spices and trinkets at the markets.  Simplistic. Grateful for their blessings no matter how big or small we as outsiders may have deemed them to be. Perspective is a beautiful thing to take away from visiting another country.

The days moved along quickly yet they seemed like some of the longest days I had experienced and the 47 degree average wasn't a novelty for long. Sometimes up to three flights a day, we hopped over the country like a flea being chased by an irritated hand, barely in one place long enough to absorb it. We visited beautiful hotels fit for Bollywood royalty as well as tiny, dirty hotels where rats, yes rats, ran up our cupboards next to the bed. We had an equally amazing experience at both. We tasted everything that we could whether it be things we couldn't pronounce on menus or samples through the market, not all agreed with our bellies but we wanted to inhale India in every way possible.

I met so many beautiful people, visited the breathtaking Taj Mahal and hiked up the Himalayas. It is crazy to me that this beauty is just their every day surroundings yet they are viewed as one of the poorest countries in the world. How rich they were in beauty, in culture and gratitude.

India will always have a special spot in my heart and I cannot wait to go back.


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