Skip to content
The flight Bangkok-Deli went well. So on March, 29th at 11:30pm I have landed at the Indira Gandhi airport. Quick passport control, some questions from a border officer – and I am at the ‘sacred’ Indian land. To my big pleasure, at the airport I was met by Michael, a good mate of my father. It is literally only a couple of days before of my arrival Michael and his wife Irina have decided to support me. Oh, how these first days are important! When a European man gets for the first time to India, this is for him like a ‘survival course for beginners’.  While the beginners are under the impression of cultural shock, there are often some troubles happen. So, Irina undertook some education lessons for the inexperienced recruit, that was–me.
The next day, before my first independent day out to the city, Irina has given me a short instruction, and as it is known ‘fore-warned is fore-armed’! The main danger is food and water. You should not to be seduced by numerous temptations in the form of various pies, cakes, cut fruit, the squeezed out juice and salads, as in general everything that is on sale without a factory packing represents a potential danger. Buying water, always check, that a bottle has been sealed, as it often happens that the bottle could have previously already been opened. Enterprising Hindus don't hesitate to use empty bottles, repeatedly pouring water in them, but for the quality of this water they are not any longer responsible. The list of what is not recommended has appeared to be big enough, but what is ok then? Surely, you can eat at restaurants, but they are quite expensive in comparison to usual cafes. If you are very hungry and nearby there is none either shops or restaurants - buy only that meal which has been through a thermal processing, i.e. has been welded or fried thoroughly. But anyway it is better not having any meat taken. Well, and it is certainly extremely important here to follow the rules of hygiene. During my stay in Delhi, the problem of food wasn't so actual for me, as Irina spoiled me with my favourite Russian meal - borsches, cutlets, fried potato and other delicatessens which I have already missed madly.
Another feature of the Indians - imposed on you as an assistant and annoyingly trying to sell you everything that only is possible. All begins with innocent questions: where are you going, where are you from, for how long are you in India and etc. And here we are - in a minute he already considers himself as your guide. Further it is suggested that you visit different shops that only this ‘guide’ knows about and in which the best goods at the lowest prices are available. Naturally, he expects to receive from you money for being your "guide", and, for one, from the owner of the shop where he ‘guided’ you, if you have bought something over there. If you were interested in any goods, and you have asked the price, as a rule, the starting price will be several times, frequently at 5-10 times, above the real one. And it is necessary to negotiate everywhere, except those shops where the factory goods with the fixed price are on sale. Such goods have the price list on which it is written M.R.P (Maximum Retail Price) - a ceiling price. It happens that sometimes the goods can be sold at the price less than M.R.P.
Trishaws and poor kiddies can follow you for kilometers without a break and as they’ve got nothing particular to do and have more than enough of a spare time, so sometimes they try to take you by a long siege. It is especially difficult to get rid of them, if you have shown at least some reaction on them. But these problems didn't bother me as well, as I was on my own transport, and I had a player in my ears. In general the player has appeared to be a very useful thing, and it is not an obligatory to listen to music after all, you can just put the ear-phones on and walk. If you don't react to any contact attempts, and a ‘stuck’ sees that you don't listen to him, he quickly loses his interest in you.
 
Main-bazaar, New Delhi.
 
Two days in Delhi have passed quickly. I have taken a walk by the central part and have walked around an old city. I have also been on a ‘main-bazaar’ - a place where first of all are heading all the ‘backpackers’ coming to Delhi. On the ‘main market’ there are lots of cheap guest houses, cafes, shops and market stalls. This is, perhaps, the cheapest place in Delhi and it is possible to get here practically everything that you need. But outwardly this area looks as suburban slums. There are abandoned buildings, dirt, stench, numerous narrow lanes, and the cows walking on these lanes. But don’t be frightened by the first impression. Here it is lovely enough and interesting. You can just sit down at any street cafe and observe the typical Indian life.
Before my arrival to India I asked many of those already visited about this country. All told approximately the same that I have described above - dirt, stench, poverty, beggars etc. But after their stories, I asked a question – was it enjoyable to you at all? And all answered: yes, India - an astonishing country! And yes, outwardly all looks rather not attractive, but at the same time I feel a huge interest in this country, its culture, and it strikes me. India is beyond any logic, you can (and must!) only feel it.
In the evening of the second day of my stay in India I went on a bus to Dharamsala. Dharamsala is a city that locates in northern India in foothills of the Himalayas. I have gone there to attend a course of ‘Vipassana’. ‘Vipassana’ is a technique of meditation based on the concentration of consciousness on actual sensations of a body. I was just curious to try something new. But on the way to Dharamsala I have already received quite a sufficient portion of unforgettable experience. The journey took 14 hours and all this time the driver ‘flew’ with the fastest speed possible for our bus.  Slowness that is peculiar to Hindus is easily compensated by their style of driving. And nothing is an obstacle or a hindrance for them - neither holes, nor hummocks, neither rails, nor steep mountain sides. And that last mentioned, in my opinion, hit up their passion for a ‘deadly’ dangerous race even more.
After 12 hours of the travelling through the night we have reached mountains, and at that point the most interesting has begun. The driver went with the same speed, as on an ordinary road, and going down to the mountain, perhaps, even faster.  Without using a brake, he recklessly entered into blind turns. Only on an entrance to the turns he begun beeping, thereby warning those who could have been on the other, invisible to him, side of the road that he is coming and he is very determined. It seems to me that the only thing helped us - that it was an early morning, about 5 am, and the same kind of ‘Schumacher’ drivers did not appear on the road yet. I would advise to those who are too sensitive not to look out of the window while travelling along a twisty serpentine-like road.  I couldn’t avoid it as I have woken up from some windy turns and have looked out. We rushed with a wild speed in one meter distance from a steep mountain side, climbing up higher and higher. The desire to admire of the magnificent landscapes hasn't arisen in me, and I fell asleep again, so that this ‘dream’ would have ended quicker.
 
Dharamsala, Northern India.

Northern India is dramatically distinctive from the Central and Southern India. People are quieter here, more decent and tidy. The Tibetan culture is widely spread in Dharamsala and precisely here is a summer residence of the Dalai Lama. Having arrived to Dharamsala, first of all I have gone to try the Tibetan cuisine that earned a big popularity amongst the tourists coming here. Many cafes offer to attend Tibetan cuisine master classes and to learn how to cook these meals, but I have limited myself with a simple breakfast. One of the most popular dishes here - Tibetan ‘momo’. Potato, cabbage or other stuffing is wrapped in pastry, then boiled or fried. It is very similar to Russian’s ‘vareniki’, but it is a bit bigger on the size. Especially I liked the Tibetan brown bread. I was ready to eat it as a separate meal, while drinking hot milk as well.
Registration for a course of ‘vipassana’ began only at one o'clock in the afternoon, and I had three hours of a spare time. Having decided to climb the nearest top of a mountain to enjoy the Himalayas view, I have questioned several locals about a track. As they said the journey takes 1-3 hours. Actually, I expected to manage the trip for an hour, but after one hour the top of a mountain has come closer only for a little bit. In my head appeared the first thoughts of uncertainty - maybe I should to come back now? But I persuaded myself: well, another half an hour and then I turn back. The pathway goes along a slope and at first it turns around one mountain, then around another one, and it’s unclear, how long it could take to reach the top. In half an hour I still was wandering in the woods, peering upwards, trying to guess, where the pathway goes further down. I give myself the next half an hour and go further. From words of the people going down it was still unclear, how much of the journey remains to be walked up to the top. Some of the people told me it is about a few minutes, others - half an hour, and closer to the top a couple of walkers have told me that there is still about an hour left to go. My desire to ‘creep’ further up is already almost disappeared, but also it was too ashamed to turn back at that point. I give myself the last 10 minutes and continue to ‘creep’. In some places on the pathway snow starts to appear and the height approaches 3 thousand meters. And then here I am! After more than two hours I have got, at last, on this hill from which opens the view to the Himalayas. On 1st of April 2011 I have seen this famous mountain ridge for the first time, my GPS shown 2830 meter above the sea level. Five-minute rest, short photo-session, and I need to run downwards, as the registration has already begun, and if I am not there before it’s closed, my place in the queue will be given to others who are interested.
 

 
Downwards I run in a hurry, overtaking on my way those who came across towards me on the way up. Out of breath and tired I have come running to the meditation centre just 15 minutes before the registration closed. A bit of chaos and mess reigned at the registration office, people were giving their personal belongings for storage, got familiar and introduced to each other, tried to have a good long talk in last hours before meditation and were going to plunge completely into silence and meditation the next 10 days.
 

 

RODE THRU:

Finland

 Sweden

 Norway

 Denmark

 Germany

 Netherlands

 Belgium

 France

 UK

 Ireland

 USA

 Thailand

 Cambodia

 Laos

Vietnam

 India

   Nepal

China

Mongolia