Writing this post almost three weeks after leaving India, I still feel mixed emotions about departing. Previous visitors to India told me I would either love or hate my time in that country. Difficulties included, I declare myself a member of the ‘love it’ camp.
Even as a fan of travel in India, when I booked my flight to from Bangalore to Bangkok, Thailand I was ready to leave. I wanted to escape what I view as limitations imposed by society on people of my gender, the constant challenges involved with daily life tasks, and the lack of anonymity I experienced throughout my visit in India.
Departing India from a more western city, Bangalore, and arriving in cosmopolitan Bangkok, culture shock hit hard and continues daily. The following are a few of the sights I was surprised to see in Bangkok (and then doubly surprised to realize I was surprised, because these are sights that at some point in my life were normal):
- A clear, efficient, communicable process where people wait and every person receives the same level of service in a timely manner.
- Signs and maps in public spaces.
- A train station with easy to identify ticket windows, signs, and minimal lines.
- A mass transit system.
- Abundant ATMs with cash.
In Thailand, not only am I re-familiarizing myself with sights, opportunities, and processes that were previously normal, there is a second reason for my feelings of culture shock. I am accepting my experiences in India will not compare with experiences elsewhere. As the saying goes, with great reward comes great sacrifice. Traveling in India is no exception to this mantra. By profoundly challenging me, I also experienced deep rewards.
My last long-haul night bus in India was a posh experience. I got a pillow and a bag of snacks. I am smiling especially big because this ride was my last night bus and my last long-haul bus for at least one month.