I am thrilled to interview Samuel Jeffery. He’s a Canadian expat English teacher, model, photographer, freelance writer and not to mention a wandering nomadic soul. He has spent most of his 20´s as a wandering nomad. A few years back, he was in India and he has been kind enough to share his Indian experiences.
Interview with Nomadic Samuel
When did you visit India?
I was fortunate enough to have visited India back in 2010 from late October until mid December. Overall, I was there for seven weeks.
Which parts of India did you see?
I visited quite a few destinations in Rajasthan including Jaipur, Pushkar, Johdpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer. I then backtracked to Delhi where I headed up north to Mcleod Ganj and Amritsar. After another quick pit-stop in Delhi I visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. My last two destinations were Varanasi and Kolkata before travelling overland to Bangladesh.
What was your first impression of India?
My first impression was that I had waited way too long to visit. I was immediately blow away by the pace of life and diversity in culture. My time in India compares favourably to any country I’ve ever visited. It’s a country that often brings about polarizing reactions from travellers; however, I can say with certainty I’m on the side that loves it.
What would you advice someone travelling to India?
The best piece of advice I could offer someone would be to budget enough time. India is such an enormous country and there is just so much to see and do. I felt I only had a short preview or teaser during my brief seven week visit back in 2010.
What souvenirs did you buy?
I bought souvenirs for my parents mostly. They received some lovely embroidered table clothes, wall hangings and ornaments to put on their Christmas tree. They are certainly some of the most colourful and elaborate items they are now displaying in their home.
Which items would you never travel without to India?
My camera! I honestly couldn’t put it down the entire time I was there. Considering I was only there for seven weeks it’s shocking I was able to come away with thousands of photos.
Did you try Indian food and what did you think of it?
I ate Indian food almost exclusively. I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t get enough of the wonderfully rich curries. Aside from thali (which I ate almost daily) I found myself gormandizing on Palak Paneer and Butter Naan frequently.
Did you find India hot?
I didn’t! However, it should be noted that I visited in the cooler season of November and December and stuck to the Northern regions of the country. Considering I came from the sweltering heat and humidity of Malaysia I found it to be a welcome relief to be honest.
What did you think of the Indian people; honest answer please?
I found for the most part that I had genuine encounters with locals who were both warm and hospitable. To be perfectly honest, I encountered some shady types when dealing with rickshaw drivers and other touts. I think as a tourist you have to be street wise when you’re facing these types of situations but you can let your guard down more with locals when they’re looking forconversation and friendship.
What was your worst experience of India?
I was sick several times. I had a tight schedule where my train tickets were all booked in advance and I had to drag myself to the station in certain situations when I still should have been resting.
What was your best experience of India?
Surprisingly, it was taking the trains. I had never had so much fun going from point A to B in my entire life. Almost every train ride was like an adventure in itself and I was constantly stimulated with was going on outside my window and inside the train.
Did you see beggars and how did you deal with them?
When it came to dealing with beggars I tried to be generous when I could but I also realized that by giving them things I was encouraging to do it more. It’s honestly something I’ve struggled with when I travel because on the one hand I want to help out but on the other hand I don’t know if by giving small amounts of money is actually the best thing to do long-term.
What modes of transport did you use in India? What are thoughts on them?
I used trains almost exclusively for long-distance journeys and various kinds of rickshaws when doing travel within cities. I loved both of them to be perfectly honest. As mentioned previously train rides were my favourite aspect of being in India. Although I was ripped off from time to time when taking a rickshaw, I still found it a fascinating way to explore where I was based.
Please give your best tips for travelling to India?
My top tip would be to have a rough idea of where you’d like to go but not to have rigid plans. It’s a country where I feel it’s great to slow down your pace to appreciate more what you’re witnessing on a day to day basis.
Finally, would you visit India again?
I most certainly would! It’s one of my top destinations I hope to visit in 2013.
Samuel Jeffery is the wizard pulling the strings behind the curtain of Nomadic Samuel and Smiling Faces Travel Photos . He’s also the lesser half of Backpacking Travel Blog which he runs with his girlfriend Audrey of That Backpacker . Together they’re backpacking addicts with perpetually itchy travel feet.