For our Rambler, John (who just so happens to be Rickshaw Manager, Vicky’s Stepdad!) travelling has no age limit. At 70 years old, John recently returned from a trip to India on an adventure that will stay with him forever. And for those questioning “am I too old to travel?” he has the answer…
Absolutely not. My friend Kim of 30 years and I took ourselves off to India to explore the Golden Triangle and Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, and did we have some giggles along the way. It was a lifelong craving to see the palaces, experience the culture and after reading Shantaram I thought I was ready. Leaving our respective wives at home to enjoy their luxurious living, we threw on our back packs (well suitcases with wheels) sorted the travel insurance (easier than I thought at my ripe old age of 70), obtained a copy of the lonely planet (in normal font size, I hasten to add) and off we went! I even joined Facebook for the occasion to share our stories and tummy troubles with anyone who would listen.
A shock to the system
Our 3 week trip took us through the towns of Dehli, Jodhupur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Agra, Orchha, Khajuraho and Varanasi, I have vivid recollections of drivers who made me look like an Angel on the roads, long train journeys, my top tip here is fly if you can between your cities of choice and an odour that will stay with me for a while. Did I find it challenging or daunting at any time? I am only human and it is a long way from home distance and culture, so yes I would be lying if I said I didn’t, but would I have preferred to stay back home in Kent? Absolutely not.
Experiencing the real India
India left me with a kaleidoscope of memories and how to make sense, or put them into words is, for me, like trying to solve an impossible puzzle. A country so full of heritage and past glories, a land so rich in mineral wealth and beauty, a people so warm and welcoming and yet a country so diverse as to confuse, delight, amaze and distress. Children so destitute that they tear your heart apart, poverty so wide spread that homeless people litter the streets an inhabit hovels everywhere you turn, elderly and infirm with no help or care, unemployment on an industrial scale and yet buildings temples, monuments and a warmth of human spirit that inspire and lift your soul.
How this country is going to drag its self and its millions of people into a fairer and more pleasant place to live is not going to be quick or easy, the government has its role to play, but also the people. Seemingly, from all walks of life they have no concept of tidiness or pride in their surroundings, litter abounds in every spare inch of space, fly tipping, of unwanted building waste lines every road side, and beautiful buildings are left to disintegrate and rot. It is difficult to understand a people, who’s religion considers a cow to be holy, yet allows them to have no veterinary care, to become emaciated and scavenge in the rubbish for food.
It’s difficult to understand how educated, or even semi educated people, regardless of religion, cannot understand the health risks, let alone the unpleasantness, of allowing cows, dogs, sheep and goats to foul the streets without any form of restriction. It is also impossible to understand why, even in the larger towns and cities, that in this day and age the unroadworthy vehicles and lawlessness of the drivers is allowed to continue.
India, the enigma
Tourism is, of course, big business, and to witness and experience this way of life is, as I have said before, a unique experience, which is, I guess the reason why so many people, myself included, want to come to India. But I wonder for how long the modern world will tolerate it.
On one hand it would be like destroying the centuries old ways of life of the tribes in the Brazilian jungle, and be lost for ever, on the other hand I can’t help thinking that the poor and destitute would welcome the change.
My journey has far exceeded my expectations, the roller coaster of emotions I have experienced will be hard to exceed. The majesty of the palaces, the scale of the forts, the craftsmanship of the temples and the filth and grinding poverty all mingle into one unforgettable hotchpotch of life in this enigma called India.
Added support from Rickshaw
Knowing we had all of our transport and accommodation booked made our trip so much easier to enjoy and having a Travel Specialist who was at the end of the phone if we had any last minute questions was really reassuring. The drivers were professional despite the lack of the rules of the road. The accommodation did not disappoint from the majestic homes, the back alley hotels and the roof terrace overlooking the Ganges, all very individual and real.
Our trip was for 3 weeks and whilst I needed a holiday when I got back, was 70 too old to travel? Absolutely not.