Manuela arrives in India from Colombia

My friend Manuela writes about her experiences in India. She talks about coming to India and settling in Chandigarh. Read to find out more about her Indian fairytale.

My own Indian Fairytale by Manuela Osorio Pineda

From the very first moment I placed my feet in Indian lands, I had that strange but fascinating feeling of being walking in two different countries at the same time; not between a ‘rich’ and a ‘poor’ one – although the economic gap is so huge you can almost touch it- not between a ‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’ country – although gender equality is still a utopia as in most regions of the world- and not either between a religious divided country, although the conflicts involving the beliefs differences can still be felt in some parts of the vast subcontinent.

Manuela

Me in Dehradun

Blame it on the exhaustive 36-hour trip all the way from Colombia or the large amount of antibiotics in my body fighting a criminal bronchitis, the strange feeling was there and, to be honest, has never really left. It’s hard to explain, but after a lot of thinking and arguing between my mother tongue and second language, I came out with a pretty decent definition; I was on ‘Surreal Mode: that undefined state of consciousness that resembles the moment when you are in the middle of a dream, and suddenly realize you’re actually dreaming… Or the limbo half way between being asleep and awake, in which you are conscious enough about the reality surrounding you but everything seems possible and your random thoughts make total sense, just to become extremely nonsense once you come back to the limited and full-of-norms reality’. Yes! When I first stepped on Indian lands I started living a dream.

Before coming to this beautiful country I read thousands of articles, talked to dozens of people and watched a million videos… But none ‘WOW’ me more than this one!

The line of open hands that welcomed me at the hall of the Indira Gandhi Airport were a sign of the warmth I was about to find in the Indian culture. There I was; tired, sick, confused and excited; wondering where to change my money or whether there was gonna be someone outside the airport waiting for me, since my flight was delayed for two hours… And there they were! Freezing outside the building because you’re not allowed to enter to the airport without a ticket, even if you just got out from there! So yes, Prachir, Rossana and his friend were holding a paper with my name; once again, CouchSurfing had saved my butt!

Whether I was too crazy to travel 15280 Km. all the way from Colombia, to travel in a foreign country which official language I don’t speak, and trust a bunch of guys I met on-line  is something I will not discuss in this post. All I have to say in my defence is that every second of this experience has been worthwhile, even on last May 23, when I was melting at 43, 8 °C on one of the ‘hottest days of the last 5 years’. Of course! ‘It’s India!’ Right?.. And that’s the first mistake you can make while traveling to another country: make suppositions based on prejudgements  After crossing the gates to the city and my new life, a blow of wind woke me up and kinda slaps me on the face! : 5°C… This is how India really felt.

Manikaran

Me in Manikaran (Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh)

The next couple of days were amazing and marathonic; crazy traffic, crowded places, curious eyes staring at my ripped jeans, friendly smiles, amazing sunsets, beautiful buildings, delicious – although spicy – food, unbelievable sociable guys asking about my nationality and bargaining lessons; ‘ye both jada hai, kam karo!’ something like ‘That’s too much! Make it less..!’ Two days later I was in Chandigarh, the City Beautiful, but that’s another story.

And that’s how I started my journey through the lands of Gandhi and OSHO; where Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians live together in relative harmony along with hundreds of dialects and local languages, an increasing number of deities and prophets and cows, camels, elephants, monkeys, goats, pigs, cars, trucks, tuk-tuks –with its big HORNS!- locals and foreigners. Everyone walking the same roads and breathing the same air loaded with scents … or stinks. Incredible

INDIA, a country that has given a whole new meaning to the word D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y !!!

If you wanna know how I was slapped by a stranger on a local bus or how I ‘accidentally’ met the Dalai Lama, STAY TUNED! Now tell me how was your first reaction when you came to India for the first time; did you hate the chaos and noisy traffic or did you fall in love with the food and lifestyle? And if you are Indian; what is the first advice you would give a foreign about to come to the country?

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37 Responses to “Manuela arrives in India from Colombia”

  1. Hi Manuela, and nice to meet you here at Shalu’s blog :)

    I liked what you wrote about your experience while visiting India and I think that’s where the beauty of traveling to a different country lies – isn’t it?

    You get to meet new people, accept and adapt to their people and culture in the best possible way and of course get to try a variety of food and spices, especially if it’s India!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead, both of you :)
    Twitter:

  2. Manuela says:

    Hey Harleena! Thanks for your comment; I’m happy to be writing for Shalu’s great blog and -of course!- to be living in this amazing country that surprises me everyday.
    Twitter:

  3. Hi Manuela,
    Welcome to Shalu’s blog. What a long journey from Colomnia, 36 hours! I am sure you had an amazing time.
    God, I love that YouTube video. :-)
    Pleased to meet you.
    Seun
    Twitter:

  4. Manuela says:

    Nice meeting you Seun! Glad you liked the article :) By the way, congratulations on your new baby! Looking forward to hear more about your journey as a dad!
    Twitter:

  5. Ahsan says:

    Hello Manuela,

    You described very nicely about India. Describing from a traveler about India tells about the place more interesting
    Twitter:

  6. My Say says:

    hei Manuela,
    its amazing to know about you and about your feelings for India. Its a mix-bag country .. you get it all here be it diversified weather conditions , language, culture , economy, anything … :)
    loved the first capture so much !! i must say you are very beautiful and the Indian attire adds on to it :)
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  7. I feel in love wit the chaos, the noisy traffic and the colours of India as soon as I arrived!
    Twitter:

  8. Hi Manuela: What a journey and what a warm welcome in the cold weather. Yes you have reached the right India, that is so full of contrasts and still holds together….
    Twitter:

  9. Hi Manuela: What a journey and what a warm welcome in the cold weather. Yes you have reached the right India, that is so full of contrasts and still holds together with a magical glue…
    Twitter:

  10. I came to India after spending four months in Nepal, so my first impression was that the two countries were actually pretty similar. India is more expensive and much more crowded, but also more exciting and it has much more variety in terms of food. That last one was especially important for me and I found myself eating much more often than I needed to throughout the day, whereas I had only really been eating twice a day in Nepal.
    Twitter:

  11. Dalija says:

    I love reading your posts, they are very nformative.You are really giving out a valuable information- thanks!

  12. Hiten says:

    Hi Manuela,

    This was a wonderful post about some of your experiences in India.

    It reminded me of my first trip to India when I was 17. It was such an amazing trip. I was there for 4 weeks and at the end of it, I didn’t want to come home!

    Thank you.

  13. shiv says:

    Hi Manuela,
    nice description i think you already have an indian great guide as Shalu. So enjoy indian culture with wonderful friend Shalu.

    @Shalu: thanks for giving a good foot prints on foreigners mind.
    Twitter:

  14. shiv from droidow says:

    Hi Manuela,
    Thanks for sharing your great experience. By the way you already got great guide as Shalu. So no need to worry she will help you to show great indian places.

    Thanks shalu for posting her experience!!
    Twitter:

  15. Manuela says:

    Hey guys! I’m glad you all like the article :) It’s really nice to see people like what you write, especially when writing is your passion!… I don’t know how I will feel when my time here ends but you are right, it will be really hard to say goodbye! You change so much when travelling! Don’t you think so? sharing with people from different backgrounds and so different lifestyles really gives you a whole new perspective…
    Twitter:

  16. I. C. Daniel says:

    You should start blogging Manuela. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of interesting things to share.

    Best regards from I. C. Daniel

    PS: You look great! :D
    Twitter:

  17. Aasma says:

    I know how excited you get when you plan your first trip to any place either in your country or outside country. We keep planning our day outs, and if you could find any good travel operator it all become really simple.
    Twitter:

  18. Hey Manuela, Hope you had a great time here and the hindi sentence you used to tell shopkeeper to less the price is the word ‘Bahut’ not ‘Both’ :P :P. By the ways don’t mind just for fun !!!!! and as you asked first advice I would like to give to every foreigner that never pay to beggars and be alert while shopping

  19. Agness says:

    Hi Manuela. Thank you for sharing your experience on travels and life in India. This post really encouraged me to finally make it to India.

  20. Santy says:

    Hey Manu… writing here improving my english.
    I didn´t knew this part of you!!!
    I´ll keep reading you…
    About India, I´ll like to know about the medicine they use in there…. it´s called Ayurveda, right? have you contact with it, or have you hear something about it?
    nice to see ya here……

  21. Harshvardhan says:

    Great to see you sharing your Indian experience on the blog. The experiences you share are a great way of reminding us too of how incredible India is.

    I remember the first time I was here I despised the chaos But maybe was too young to appreciate her beauty – the simplicity, the diversity, the people and yes the food !
    Seven years have passed and can’t let go of the impeccable feeling that she still remains undiscovered. There’s always that one road not taken, a monument not visited, a city not explored.

    By the way the “getting slapped” story surely seems interesting. Waiting for your next post.

    If there was one advice I could offer, it would be to Keeep Travelling ! :)

  22. Lovely blog on an interesting country, you’ve definitely inspired me to plan a visit!

  23. Erika says:

    Dear Manu:

    I love the way you took me to India in just a minute!

    I hate the fact that I am not there and I can’t be there anytime soon, so I shouldn’t be thanking you for feeding my desire to go merge myself in such a colorful, flavorful and scentful territory. Just the thought of diversity and co-existing with exotic animals makes me whisper.

    Keep blogging for humanity you talented young lady!

  24. Mostafa Nagy says:

    GO MANU :D
    well done . you’re always made me proud of you :)

  25. Manuela says:

    Thank you all guys!… I’m really, really glad my experience is inspiring people to come :) India is a MUST GO destination! a life-changing trip that goes beyond the fun of meeting new people and trying new food… I’ll be more than happy to help everyone who is planning on coming!
    Twitter:

  26. Pramod says:

    I enjoyed reading your experiences on visit to our country India ….Would love to read some more of your experiences .Thanks for sharing them with us .

    Regards,
    Pramod
    Twitter:

  27. Salika from Gawaya Travel Blog says:

    Hey Manuela, you’re so right about the diversity. It’s just amazing. One thing I noticed when I went to India with all the chaos was, people were nice to each other. I saw few incidents where motor bikes and tuk tuks scratching each others vehicles but they just smiled at each other and went about their business. Something I haven’t seen anywhere else. Great read and hope you enjoy India.
    Twitter:

  28. varun mishra says:

    hi Shalu I read your Blog,Its Really Very nice,You Are Doing really Great Job
    Thanks For Sharing

  29. bram says:

    Hi manuela, you are lucky women because you visit nice country. I always dream to have trip in India, but when? Do you have your own blog?

    • Manuela says:

      Hey Bram!… I don’t have my own blog yet but I will before the year ends for sure!… Or that’s the plan… lol… meanwhile, I’ll write all my adventures in Shalu’s Blog. I hope you can make it to India some day too! IT IS WORTH IT!
      Twitter:

  30. Aayna from gazebo says:

    Reading about India through the thoughts of an individual who is not an Indian, seems to be enticing and nice. I really liked the manner in which you have described your journey and experience in the country. Welcome to India!! Thanks.

  31. Fatima from cable tie says:

    India is a mix of cultures and holds so much to view; a spectrum of colors of life. The food the people and the places are all diverse yet unique. Thanks for taking us through India Shalu.

  32. Sana from Womens Clothing says:

    Manuela visit to India is encourages and invites all those Indians who are settled abroad and their generation has not still visited India.It is good luck of Manuela that she has visited such a nice country.

  33. Josh says:

    Given a chance to explore Asia, I will consider visiting India because this country is reach in tradition and majestic myths and legend not to mention my first place to visit is the famous Taj Mahal, it’s origin and interesting stories that I would love to hear and see.

  34. Dream body says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience on travels and life in India. This post really encouraged me to finally make it to India.
    Twitter:

  35. gatebruse says:

    very nice article thanks Yes has been willing to share

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