Freedom India!

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“Why is that guy painting a door in the middle of this busy road?”

“Wait!  Was that an elephant walking around downtown?”

“Are we really allowed to drive down the wrong way of this street just because it’ll be quicker?”

Maharaj, our driver, could tell he was ushering another set of new arrivals around his proud city as we were rubbernecking.

His simple, smiling exclamation to many of our observational outbursts was “Freedom India!

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Local tea vendors. Probably a family operation.
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Who needs a zoo?

tl;dr

A video summary of our time in Ahmedabad, India.

Because our boys’ heritage is half German and half Indian, we felt it important to visit those countries when the time was right.  It helps that Spain is about the midpoint to India from our home in the States, so what better time to make our first trip with the kids?

Our upbeat driver, Maraj.
Our upbeat driver, Maharaj.

We had been holding off primarily for two reasons: 1) We wanted the boys to be at an age where they would remember the experience and 2) India isn’t exactly an easy or overly kid-friendly place to visit.

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Wanting to make this trip count, we opted to go for one month.  We started in the friendly confines of Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat where grandparents, aunts/uncles, and my brother-in-law’s family were also visiting.  It was cute to listen to the first time visiting cousins discuss the things they were seeing and sharing their experiences.

Indian jungle gym
Indian jungle gym

We spent most of the first week seeing family, shopping, and visiting a few of the more well known sites in the area.

Adalaj Stepwell - 5 stories deep
Adalaj Stepwell – 5 stories deep

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It also allowed us to participate in one of the largest kite festivals in the world.

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One of the highlights was visiting our oldest aunt’s retirement home, celebrating upcoming birthdays, and serving them lunch.

Grateful patrons at the retirement home
Grateful patrons at the retirement home

On the surface, I can see why a lot of people don’t care for India.  It’s crowded.  It’s dirty.  Few things work the way you want.  But what do you expect from a country with 1.25 billion people?  To put that in perspective, quadruple every American and ask them to live within the eastern seaboard of the United States.

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It is a democracy after all.  A big, messy, complicated democracy where it is hard to influence change.  This isn’t like China where the government sets the tone and everyone follows.  Throw in considerations associated with overpopulation along with economic and social challenges, and you get India.

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A typical strip mall
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Workers and their families often live on the construction site.

I’m still not sure I know what “Freedom India!” means, but I suspect it has something to do with Indians doing what they need to do to survive without messy rules in place getting in the way.

Freedom India, indeed.

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Have you been to India?

If so, what was your impression?  If not, would you like to visit?

10 thoughts on “Freedom India!”

  1. I have been there, and it was fabulous. You paint a realistic picture of the country, good and not so good, but I will always remember it as being exotic, friendly, and beautiful with atmospheric days of mist and something that looks to be from a different century. I loved seeing the animals abound in the streets. The anti malaria tablets did attack my system, but I would visit again if I could.

    1. Yep. And I’m always amazed that among the chaos on the streets, you rarely hear anyone raise their voice. Complete and utter patience can be found on the streets of India.

    1. True that. Say, my Spanish neighbor shared an article in the NY Daily News yesterday about fleeing the US in the event Trump were to be prez and who do I see? I had to do a double-take. Nice work, Cat.

  2. “On the surface, I can see why a lot of people don’t care for India. It’s crowded. It’s dirty. Few things work the way you want. But what do you expect from a country with 1.25 billion people? To put that in perspective, quadruple every American and ask them to live within the eastern seaboard of the United States.”

    It would be like greater NYC metro area (with more cows). 🙂

    I’ve never been to India. I used to want to visit but I think I’m more of a chicken these days. Maybe some day. I’m sure there are many cool places to visit but dealing with the grind of India would take a lot of patience.

    1. Yeah, NYC with a few more dirt streets and no traffic signals or road rules!

      I’ll have a few more posts summarizing a few of the more touristy sites we saw which were absolutely breathtaking (Taj Mahal included) that may change your mind 🙂 No question about it, though. It is tough sledding in India.

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