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A year ago, on April 29th, 2018, I realized my dream of going to India. It was the dream of my life. It was my project. I was studying with the ambition of going to India at the end. I was working and saving money with the goal of making my dream come true. Finally, the end of my studies two years ago, and the accumulation of small jobs, made my dream come true much faster than anything I could have planned.
I remember taking my ticket about two months before departure and counting the days. I was excited and stressed. My emotions grew as the departure date approached.
Before I left, I was often told, "But do you know what's going on in India?" or, "Do you know that this is the place where there are the most kidnappings?" or, "Do you think women are respected?" or, "Are you sure it's reasonable to go alone, especially since you're blond with blue eyes?"
So many questions, and yet I didn't care at all: "We'll see!" I told them. I didn't want to watch documentaries about India, I didn't want to read any testimony or watch the news that would only point out to me that, yes, India is perhaps a dangerous country.
I had chosen India as my first big trip destination because I wanted to discover this culture that seemed so far from ours in France, but yet I felt so close to it spiritually. I had been passionate about Hindu philosophy for a long time and I wanted to discover it on my own. And then I knew that there was poverty in the world, that there were countries where people lived less comfortably than we French people. I knew it, but I couldn't imagine what it meant.
I was going to India because I wanted to get that slap in the face. I wanted to experience this culture shock. And I got it.
Here is what I wrote in my diary when I arrived in Bombay:
"Monday, April 30th, 2018:
I'm in Bombay. That's it. I can't believe how much has already happened to me in just 12 hours on this Earth, so far from where I come from.
I arrived last night at 11PM. As soon as they arrived, a crowd of people, noises, heat. I had to stay very focused at the airport to understand how to get out of there. I had an appointment outside with my surfing couch. I stopped at the immigration office for more than an hour because I didn't have a permanent address in Bombay. After more than an hour of talking and after contacting my couch surfer, they let me go. Anyway, I was determined to get out of that airport and I wouldn't have let them send me back to France.
I met Parav, my couch surfer, a very nice 25-year-old Indian. He seemed very nice and was very well rated on couch surfing, then he told me he was hosting another girl from South America the same week as me.
I expected to get a slap when I arrived in Bombay and it was even stronger than I had ever imagined.
We took a tuk-tuk for 30 minutes from the airport to his apartment, and in 30 minutes I saw much more impressive things than I had seen in my whole life in France.
Already the tuk-tuk was going super fast and driving anyhow, he was screaming and honking and had a statue of Ganesh in front of his wheel, like all other tuk-tuks by the way. I couldn't find a belt and held my bag very tightly so it wouldn't fall off. It was like an attraction at a carnival.
We may have been in the middle of the night, but I live full of life. I saw people sleeping in the middle of the road on cows, others washing in gutters. I live with five people on the same scooter, including an infant, riding against the direction without a helmet or shoe.
Parav and I finally got back to his apartment. It was pretty big and clean. I felt there was something strange. Already there was no one there. I asked her where the other girl was, she hadn't arrived yet and he told me. Well, I just want to believe it, he seemed pretty nice. I put my things in my room and then we would talk. He was an actor in Bollywood and had trained as a yoga teacher, he talked to me about the philosophy of yoga in India and it was really interesting.
Later, he offered me a drink. But not water. He handed me a glass filled to the brim with something that looked like pure whisky. I refused, he insisted. I refused again and went to bed not very reassured. I put on a jogging suit and a sweater despite the heat, the bedroom door didn't lock. I fell asleep deeply as I was exhausted by this long and emotional day.
Then during the night, I felt that my buttocks were being touched, or rather that my buttocks were being rubbed. He was trying to get closer to me! I turned around and fought back. God bless my past experiences, so I am very good at defending myself. I yelled at him and told him to get out of the room, he finally left me alone. I didn't know what to do, I wanted to leave but in the middle of the night, I knew it was not the right solution. His apartment was out of town from Bombay, I didn't have a battery and I didn't even have internet on my phone. Then I didn't know if there was a tuk-tuk in this place in the middle of the night. So I decided to wait until the morning before leaving.
Later, he tried again. This time I'm not thinking. I took my things and left. It was 6AM and fortunately, there was a tuk-tuk on the street. I didn't even have a rupee because I didn't take the time to change my money. The driver was very nice, he dropped me off at a well-known youth hostel and didn't charge me.
I am now at the "Basti Hostel" and I am ready to really start my dream.
This story will not stop me, on the contrary, I know that India is not that. I've lived worse in my life and I'm not the only one with a few obstacles while traveling!
I am impressed and amazed by all the warmth, colors, and smells. It's even more intense than all the images I had of India.
It's impressive and intense, but I'm not afraid. I feel good, perfectly at home and ready to experience this 300 percent journey!"
And that's how my adventure in India began. All the days of this trip were also intense and extraordinary, but I can reassure you that I have not had any other problems of this kind after. 😉
See you soon for the rest of the trip! 🌏❤