I thought you might like to know what India is like? No? Okay. I’m going to tell you anyway.
I went to Goa in February of this year after going for the first time in 2009. Bearing in mind I was 14 the first time, the second time I went I was 18.
The things people hear about India; the poverty, the masses of people and lack of important necessities is totally true. If you haven’t been before, it really is a culture shock. As soon as you take a step off the plane; the humidity hits you and so does their way of life. Even down to things like air conditioning at the airport. There is none. The closest thing you get is ceiling fans; where only 3 are actually on.
The journey from the airport to the hotel is once again, something that you are not prepared for. The way of driving out there is so far from our civilised, ‘stiff upper lip’ type mentality. Roads are barely passable for driving, there are no road markings to be seen and if you want to overtake, you will overtake, regardless of oncoming traffic. I remember my first time on Indian roads and I saw a family of 5 on a single moped- no helmets or protective clothing. Just sandals and the thin clothes they wore. Another time I saw a man holding a TV and a step ladder on a moped and about 10 people in a car the size of a old mini! It just wouldn’t happen here so you really don’t know how to process what you’re actually seeing as you have be brought up in such an opposite way.
On your journey you do really see the ‘real’ India. Not the luxury resorts and more wealthy areas. This is another thing that really does pull on your heart strings. You see a beautiful house, brightly painted and you can see that there is money. Then not even 3 feet away, is a family, living in a makeshift house made of tarpaulin, string and corrugated iron. You do not expect to see such a difference in so little space. They literally have nothing and then you start to see how the country is not actually poor at all. The UK sends them money for things like fresh water and health care, when in fact India is an extremely rich country but the wealth is not filtered down fairly or even at all.
An example of this is some of the weddings we saw that was held in our hotel. So extravagant and amazing really. But wow. The amount of money they spent. I asked one of the people that worked at the hotel and he said that a wedding such as that would cost millions and millions of rupees. They have things like elephants and one groom rode in on a horse and did a display for about 40 minutes before he even got married. Things like this really make you think how different our governments really work.
Having said that- the Goan people are truly lovely people. They are so nice. Portuguese is a language widely spoken out there because of the connections in the past. During our stay at the hotel we really got to know the people and they can never do enough to help or even just be polite- which you don’t really find any more in the European countries. Nothing is ever too much bother. They do little things like put a piece of cake in your hotel room for your arrival – saying ‘welcome back’ and in 2009 they gave me a whole birthday cake and put on a show for me. I would never have to think twice to recommend this place to anyone wanting a truly amazing holiday. The food is second to none- no bad stomachs; given that we were eating curry sometimes twice a day. Never a cloud in the sky and no pressure to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to just lay on the beach all day then you can or if you want to go out every day and go on trips then do so.
One thing that always made me laugh was how the cows are so sacred that they just roam around the country. They just stand in the middle of the road and everyone just drives around them! No ‘shooing’ or anything. And also how religious the country is and not the religion you would necessarily expect. So many of the Goan people are Catholic and there were so many churches and chapels. And they were beautiful. Truly stunning.
Overall, these two holidays felt like a ‘once in a lifetime’ type of thing as I just don’t think that having the oppotunity to visit such a breathtaking country happens very often to an 18 year old.
So, if you’re thinking of visiting Goa- don’t hesitate.