My friend Irene Turner was recently in India and she was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her trip to India.
Who are you and what do you?
I am Irene Turner, an interior designer and soon to me realtor helping to sell not only homes, but a quality of life here in Sonoma County. I am a traveler at heart, it’s not something I do, but who I am and how I experience life.
When did you visit India and which parts of India did you see?
I went to Mumbai, Jaipur, Fatepur Sekri, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi.
What was your first impression of India?
India was a sensory overload! from sight, sound, smell, feel and taste, it was chaotic, stimulating and exciting all at the same time
What would you advice someone travelling to India?
Be prepared. Do your due diligence of what you might need to make yourself more comfortable when traveling over there, how to eat, drink etc…and make your plans so that when you are there you can enjoy it.
Did you find India hot?
No, but I was there for the month of February, so it was spring like
What souvenirs did you buy?
Some fabrics, incense, spices, not much, But I brought home 2336 photos. I just wanted to experience it.
Which items would you never travel without to India?
My iphone and ipad to take pictures and keep in touch with my loved ones on Facetime back home.
Did you try Indian food and what did you think of it?
Only Indian Food…when in India, do as the Indians do and I LOVE it. But then I did here at home too.
What did you think of the Indian people; honest answer please?
The people I met I loved. I find them to be very sweet and heartfelt. Sometimes I wish they were a bit more direct…an ugly American trait…like knowing that we were expected to buy from vendors they took us to visit etc. But I found our drivers, tour guides, and especially the children on the streets to be wonderful!
What was your worst experience of India?
The first day only, in Varanasi, the smell was overwhelming. I won’t say we got used to it, but it was easier after the first day.
What was your best experience of India?
Riding the Elephants at Elefantastic, and as difficult as Varanasi was, Varanasi. I loved the Taj Mahal more then I expected to. We see so many pictures here that I thought I would be underwhelmed. But I was not. There is a purity and a quietness, even in the craze of all the people that is awe inspiring. I loved our hotel Jas Vilas in Jaipur the best.
Did you see beggars and how did deal with them?
Yes, mostly in Varanasi, but our driver mostly dealt with them. It was hard to see, but having traveled to Egypt and even Rome I was used to it.
What modes of transport did you use in India? What are your thoughts on them?
Plane, train, car and driver from India by car and driver company. In general they were fine, once you got used to the fact that everything is dirtier there. India actually has some great design, like my hotel in Mumbai (Le Sutra) the new terminal in Mumbai, airplanes etc. But as one Indian friend of mine said, they can design it, but maintaining them is another thing. Not so good.
Please give your best tips for travelling to India?
If you are a foreigner like I am, meaning a westerner, get a tour guide of some sort so you know what you are seeing, and plan your trip in advance so you can enjoy yourself while you are there. While I usually fly by the seat of my pants when I travel, I wouldn’t do that in India.
Finally, would you visit India again?
YES! It was a life changing trip, and I would do it again for sure.