Subject: Re: questions about India

We have been, briefly, to India, and for a cursory trip you will find these places very interesting.

Your clothing is about right--I wore a skirt and a blouse with hidden pockets so I was not carrying a fanny pack, day pack, or anything of value. I always kept a little cash in a handy, though buttoned, pocket for beggars, post cards, and bathroom tips.

When in Varanasi, I hope you will take a before dawn trip on the Ganges. Well worth the loss of sleep. In Agra, opt for a pre dawn trip or stay until after sunset. We were amazed at the changes in the color of the Taj from daylight to during sunset.

Foodwise--well, we were on a large group trip with college students and we had medical help on board our ship who gave us solid advice. We were told to eat only warm, cooked foods, drink only bottled water that was SEALED and YOU opened it, use hand sanitizer all the time, and I used only the tissues that were in my pocket and came out of the box I brought from home.

These are the only 3 places we have been, though our friends who opted for the Jaipur field trip were very pleased.

The ship docked in Madras (Chennai) and we had very little time there as we had chosen the Dehli, Agra, Varanasi field trip. Spencers was recommended for shopping and some of the ladies on the Journey bought some beautiful Indian clothes at a shop called Karin on the second level in Spencer's Mall which is really a large building. Madras was our introduction to India and the traffic and smoke and the air was a shock to our systems. Some of the students who have asthma had problems breathing.

Our daughter has been to Calcutta and Bombay, and another place in the Eastern part but this would not be on a tour. She was staying with her roommate's family so she had very different experiences than a tour would provide.

We flew on Indian Airlines and found them very adequate and the food good, though we did follow the same guidelines for eating on the plane. We took Indian trains, but we opted to not eat on the train. Seeing the crowd of people at the Delhi airport sleeping, waiting for the early trains was an experience. Our guide told us that families came the night before and slept on the ground as they could not afford a hotel. We stayed in 3 differnt hotels, and found Delhi having the nicest hotels.

Our food was not spicy, but as we were a group, we probably had special american food. I would have preferred a little more variety in food, and all Indian food does not have to be hot.

India is an experience of mind and heart, a variety of experiences not to be forgotten. The people of India are warm and friendly. Enjoy.

I have a list of recommended reading for the college students and will send that in a separate post.

Gretchen from South Carolina