Sophie Quick describes her experience of living in India, and all the wonderful things that she believes that India encompasses.
India is colour.
A flash of vibrant blue on brown as a woman herds goats across scrubland in an inappropriately glamorous saree. Pyramids of fruits stacked on carts, red, green and yellow, under a grey sliproad ramp. A golden statue adorned with flower garlands, towering on a roundabout circled by chaotic cars. Look carefully at the trucks as they career past – handpainted flower and designs scatter the metal frames. Perhaps spending so much time stencilling such elaborate motifs is the reason why they’re in such a hurry now. India will surprise you in many ways, but the prioritising of decoration means a single vista sometimes contains a greater variety of shades than a whole British town. The rainbow comes where you don’t expect it, so keep your eyes open and see how these jolts of colour transform your view.
India is flavour.
Pepper and chilli tingle nearly every sauce, soaked up by homemade breads, loaded into mouths with fingertips. Leave cutlery out of it, feel the taste before you eat. When Indians talk of food they talk of life, with importance not just as a source of sustenance but also as a way of showing love. A list of dishes may be reeled off as if they were guests: “Rice will be there, saambar will be there, chapatti will be there…”, and truly they are essential company at the table. Or seated on the floor as the case may be. The range of food is so much more than the Indian cuisine we experience in Britain. With rice as a common theme, the sauces, breads and chutneys vary immensely - try everything once! You’ll learn your tastebuds can handle something new.
India is warmth.
The hot, sticky, lethargy-inducing climate is a given. Locals loiter in shady spots to avoid the glare while foreigners drain their water bottles and baffle at their composure. What is not as expected is the warmth of the people. Open, helpful and welcoming, the hospitality is unrivalled. With family at the centre of Indian life, when you are accepted into a home you will be treated with almost overwhelming kindness. You may also find yourself with an unexpected sensation of the celebrity, with requests for photographs and signatures aplenty. Don’t fret the directness of their conversation, impoliteness indicates familiarity. Step into the cool air-conditioned room and feel the heat of their affection.
India is energy.
Calls of the market vendors mingled with enthusiastic horns of autorickshaws flood the street as traffic dodges across laneless highways. The people are expressive, passionate and insistently generous. Their love for dance and music runs as deep as their spirituality, and they are keen to share as much as possible. The culture and celebrations give an insight into another way of life altogether, so you can appreciate traditions dating back farther than you imagine.
Embrace the spectrum of sights, absorb the depth of tastes, enjoy the enthusiasm of the people. Prepare your senses for a treat, experience India.
Learn more about the different ways you could study, work, or intern in India with our Generation UK India programme.