When traveling to India or any country in South Asia, I won’t be the first to tell you that you’re in for an eye-opening experience. If you arrive from the western world, be prepared to be grateful for everything you have.
This is not my first time to India, so I’m always prepared when I go. It’s still a crazy feeling to go from such a well-developed part of the world to another.
You will witness people struggling on the street. And while you might see a 3 story house, to the right of it you will see a hut made out of palm tree branches.
But India continues to develop and expand as technology improves life there. One thing I noticed was that personal computers are not as common to find in homes as they are in the western world, but smartphones are becoming standard! Facebook is the most dominant social network I see there. For those of you trying to tap into an international market, this might be of some use to you.
I spent most of my stay in Pondicherry (Puducherry) which was actually a town in the Southeast region. Hundreds of years ago, the French settled there and built their own little section. There are french bakeries, cafes, restaurants, houses, etc. You can quickly see the French influence in the architecture. It’s staggering how different it is from other parts of India. Foreigners tend to stay on this side of town because it is cleaner and right next to the beach. And not to mention, the churches are incredible.
Cost of living and food is very cheap there.
- I could eat a whole roast chicken and a plate of naan for about $5-$8.
- 3 omelettes, 3 coffees, 3 croissants and a donut – $9 (and this was for a pricier cafe)
- Streetside coffee – $0.15
- Wireless internet – $10 for 3GB of data
And while all of this is low cost, many people still struggle with affording it. They could never fathom paying $3.50 for a coffee when they can get it for 15 cents (quality notwithstanding).
Or even just being able to use hot water.
Or being able to eat meat everyday (even if they aren’t vegetarian there, they still don’t eat meat every day because it’s pricey for them).
We have to be grateful for the things we take for granted. You should be able to name 10 of them within 30 seconds, and that’s a generous amount of time.
It’s great to see churches and meditative/prayer centers all across the town (and the country). In Pondicherry alone, there were a ton of churches where you could walk in a garden, sit down, and just pray. Some even have buildings built just for meditation and prayer. Meditation isn’t just for yoga aficionados or transcendental experts. It’s simply a way for you to find peace. For Christians, their meditation IS prayer. And sitting in the stillness, just being grateful. That’s meditation too. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just take some time to yourself.
I visited a church that has a shelter for widowed women. These are women have zero family. Their husband, children, parents, and even siblings possibly died. Or worse, they just don’t want anything to do with them. So these women are forced to live on the street alone. The nuns at the church take them in and care for them. We provided food for them on our visit. I’ll never be able to tell you how happy they were to receive a meal like that. And I’ll never be able to tell you how happy we were to give it to them.
They sleep on cots with a blanket, and it’s still luxurious for them. They don’t have A/C (as with most of India) and it’s hotter than Florida.
Meanwhile, I complain that my mattress is too rough.
See where I’m getting with this whole gratefulness thing?
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or tweet me @anthonysowri.
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