Travelling in India – Loving the Country and People in spite of all negative Aspects – 2 Nov 11

Indian culture

When I wrote about charity business yesterday, I mentioned that this kind of cheating unfortunately happens here in India. This is also why people in other countries hesitate to donate directly to India – who knows where the money lands in this country where corruption is still so common? But not only donors, also travellers in India have made the experience that not everyone in India is as honest as they may seem. This experience unfortunately disappoints many people.

It is quite normal that spiritual people come to India to explore the country of origin of the yogic science, the country where spirituality is said to be everywhere, where people have more heart and love. They have very high expectations on India’s spirituality.

So they come here and travel to Varanasi for example, believing that there, in this holy pilgrimage town, they will find many enlightened people, spirituality and love. Especially Varanasi is popular however for people being tricky, telling lies and cheating others for their own benefit.

It is not only Varanasi, though. Everywhere across India you have to be careful as a traveller because there are many scams out there. It is quite known that shopkeepers let tourists pay higher prices, sometimes several times the amount that they take from Indians. Travel agents take exorbitant prices for their services, pretending that there are no train or plane tickets available and they had to help through their connections. Tour guides take you to expensive shops recommending them because they get a commission of whatever you buy. Fake jewelers sell fake gemstones, seemingly religious priests perform ceremonies and clairvoyants tell you the future. Pharmacies sell you different medicine than your doctor prescribed to make more profit and doctors recommend treatments and tests that are not even necessary. People make promises they don’t keep, taxi and rickshaw drivers drive you around the town to reach to places that were only 100 meters away. Food stores sell you expired items and you can buy tap water filled in mineral water bottles.

Is it surprising that people get disappointed from India? They expect a high spirituality, full of honesty, compassion and love and instead they get cheated, they are being told lies and they are constantly being ripped off. Who would not be disappointed?

We recently made an experience with two travellers who wanted to visit India and come to the Ashram, too. They landed and started their travels by going to Varanasi. After three days they sent us an email, telling us that they would not come. They had made all of those experiences, were terribly disappointed and decided to just go back home.

So my first advice for travellers to India is to read about travelling in India so that you get an idea what you can expect. Don’t keep too high expectations due to what your yoga teacher told or what you read in some spiritual book. Indian people are spiritual, you will find a lot of what you have heard of but it is not heaven on earth with pink clouds, everyone living in bliss and free hugs on the road to everyone who wants. People who have such an idea will get disappointed.

In India there is a lot of poverty and that is one reason that tourists face those problems. But when you come with some preparation and an open mind, you will see that not the whole country is full of cheaters. There are many beautiful people here, too, who are honest and spiritual, who love each other and who are curious to get to know you or to help you. You will find people helping you find your way and you will find support when you least expect it. You need to be aware of cheaters but open to helpers and lovely people. Those things happen but don’t get very disappointed and discouraged by them. Don’t stop your journey and return home after one day. Give India a chance! We want to invite you here and show you the beauty of this country, of its people and its culture.

I can of course only give a guarantee for my own home and family and I can assure you that if you choose the Ashram for your stay, maybe for the beginning of a journey, you can have an insight into the beautiful culture. India gives you the possibility to learn much about love in between family members, about supporting each other and living together in peace and freedom. You will be able to see how friends are there for each other and how you can make others a part of your family even though they are not related by blood. Be ready for getting to know India from all its sides!

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  1. Marina

    I think the most important thing is to have open mind and be tolerant. It is the part of the people’s mentality, but of course not all people are like this! During my stay in India I have met very nice people, very hospitable and kind. It seems to me that it is also the part of mentality, to be friendly and open. From my point of view while traveling to other country we have to accept different mentality and customs and be free from prejudices.

  2. Steffi Meyer

    That’s so true. Before I left for my trip to Rajasthan last year I was a bit worried I would not be able to deal with the poverty and “negative aspects” – as you call it. But upon arrival in India and after overcoming the first culture shock in Delhi I just loved it and – strangely – did not feel sorry for the people I saw and met along the road b/c I found they were very proud and confident. And despite living in what us “luxury-spoiled Westerners” call poverty I didn’t feel “the need to help” in every corner, because those Rajastanees knew very well how to live. Yes, it is a different, more difficult and sometimes harsh life, but they sure know how to get through…and I loved the pride and light in their eyes.

  3. Jeanette Ella Karren

    Steffi, that was also my experience in India, too. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why I didn’t feel sad about the situation in India and you’re right, it’s their confidence, pride, and knowing how to live well. I saw a few heartbreaking things but overall people seemed happy and excited to share their country with me. I did have some minor scams pulled on me. I knew it was happening (that I was being scammed) but wasn’t prepared how to handle it beforehand so I just went along with it. Next time I will know better. I will also make sure to stop by your ashram Swami Ji Balendu next time. India is a beautiful country, full of spirit and I cried when it was time to go. I wanted to stay. Honestly, if I didn’t have three kids in the U.S. to get back to, I would have stayed awhile longer.

  4. Swami Balendu

    Dear Steffi Meyer and Jeanette Ella Karren I wrote same on 4th Nov. blog entry see here

  5. Steffi Meyer

    very sweet blog, Swami Balendu…you can tell you truly India with all its “goods” and “bads” and “inbetweens” 🙂

  6. Julia

    I think whenever you travel to places where many tourists are excatly this can happen to you. I have experienced this in many other places as well. You you have to take care some more then and decide foryourself if you feel that someone is trustworthy or not…

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