Adventures in India: Embracing The Vibrant Life of India
By ARCC India Regional Director Eben Coenen
The ceiling fans hummed steadily as they spun sending a light cool breeze through the car as it shook and creaked along the tracks. Passengers were stacked three high on light blue folding beds hinged to the wall. Strewn into the aisle is a sea of limbs and bodies stretched out on their respective bunks fast asleep. It was still early, and John and I were restless, sitting cross legged on the top bunk gazing into a book. Our game of rummy was interrupted by the slew of passengers sleeping below us and we knew we were in for a long night. But this was an adventure after all and we were just excited to be exploring a country as spirited as India.
Getting to the train itself had been an arduous process. We ran through the streets and then hopped in a rickshaw which raced through the crowd, dodging beggars and businessmen just to catch it on time. We thought all was lost when we arrived. We had made it to the station with time to spare, but where were we going? The place was crawling with people dressed in vivid saris and turbans that flowed through the station, and we had no idea which train was ours. Disappointment turned to celebration when a kind grey-bearded official finally helped us. In a small tan room crawling with geckos he pointed out where we could find our train and ensured us that we had enough time to make it. Under any other circumstances this string of events might seem crazy, but this is India; it’s a land of color and chaos and we were here to embrace it.
Just a few days earlier we had taken a semi-air conditioned bus across the country with several friends. We had an opportunity to see a region of India that we may never see again and we wanted to make the most out of our time in this unique destination. We hadn’t anticipated that we would enjoy it this much, but we found ourselves soaking in every sight, smell and sound we could, which prompted our rush for the train. We couldn’t miss it either. It was the last overnight train and we had to be four hundred thirty miles across India by morning to meet up with a group of friends traveling to another small village where we would continue our Indian adventure.
Once we made it to the train though, we were set, and we enjoyed the landscape sliding by out our window. When we pulled into the station we jumped out of the car and took the nearest rickshaw to our hotel with just enough time to take a quick shower and grab a bite to eat before we met our larger group of travelers and boarded our bus for the next part of our journey.
This part of our adventures in India had been chaotic; it didn’t always go as planned but we persevered. The challenges we faced helped us become stronger individually and tightened our friendship, but also gave us a much deeper appreciation for unspoiled beauty and excitement that awaits those who seek it.
India can only be described as an adventure. It’s a place where three wheeled rickshaws race through the streets by the thousands tooting their horns as they whip by. They flow like a river though, streaming organically through roads strewn with people, potholes, and pets. India is a place where scents attract and entice you towards delicacies and leave your mouth watering. It’s a place where vibrant colors catch your eye around every turn. It’s unlike anything you’ve experienced and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and hurried pace of this vibrant country. It’s is the birthplace of four major world religions and is home to some of the world’s most devout people but it’s also to some who face the most abject poverty. It offers some of the most magnificent sights ranging from the vastness of the Himalayas to the majesty of the Taj Mahal.
For many, India becomes a spiritual place. Not necessarily, as hollywood might have you believe, because of the teachers and gurus that abound there but because it shows you a raw life unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s a place meant for those who want to explore a vibrant world teeming with life. It calls to you, begs from you, welcomes you, confuses you, but ultimately, it shows you just how blessed life really is.
Traveling in India is an journey and adventure that grants wisdom to those willing to open their gaze to its wonder. For me, an adventure in India is an experience not to be missed.