Slow Travel in India
Thoughts drift back to our many travels in India and deliciously slow travel — days when you don’t always have a plan and you can go when and where the mood takes you.
In case you do have plans, they are frequently thwarted by many possible occurrences, e.g. the taxi that breaks down, gets lost or deposits you in the wrong place. The traffic jams, the broken-down bus and the flock of sheep or goats on the road will inevitably delay your journey, so take some extra patience with you!!
Slow travel in India has lots to do with trains, stations and timetables. The missed connection at the railway station or the train that only goes every 2 days. Not to mention the difficulty in getting a ticket in the first place and the probability of it eventuating into an actual seat if you do get on the train!
But don’t you love that feeling of being on the right train, settling back into your seat or sleeper and knowing that you will arrive at your destination sometime! You will be offered lots of snacks, calls of ‘coffee, coffee, coffee, chai, chai, chai’ and veg-e-ta-bul-cut-laate’ ringing out as you click-clack along the tracks. Your fellow travellers are usually keen to get to know all about you while practicing their English – whether you feel like it or not!
Itineraries these days can be so short, encompassing the 2 or 3 ‘must see’ bucket list destinations in just a few days - this kind of travel has never been for us.
So here are some ideas to inspire you to take a longer journey:
Pack some water, sunscreen, hat or umbrella for the sun and just start!
Spend the day wandering the streets of an old town, sampling street food and meeting the locals. Buy fruit or flowers from a lady who really needs the customers. Find a small stall selling vintage jewellery or fabrics that you can search through to find that special treasure.
Allow the spontaneity back in your travel – spend the day wandering the old quarter of Jaipur, Jaisalmer or Bhuj with no expectations. Wander around the local wet market to see the catch of the day, fresh vegetables and flowers.
Instead of seeing 3 palaces or forts in one day, go to one and see what happens there in a day. Pack a stash of chapattis, bananas and plenty of water. When you get tired from walking up and down steps, stop in a shady corner and revive yourself with a snack and watch the people go by.
Chat with locals or visitors from all over India to find out more about the country you are in. They too have made a slow pilgrimage to see the same magnificent palace …
Remember that we travel for new experiences — it's not always about the bucket list!