An India Simile?

#1 Feb 10th, 2011, 22:31
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#1
How can we help the newbies understand?

I have just read yet another itinerary from a fervent first-timer hoping to do Leh to Trivandrum, Kutch to Guwahati with an Himalayan trek, plus some time on Kerala backwater houseboats all in two weeks, by train.

The enthusiasm is commendable, but you and I know it ain't gonna happen. (And if it did, they'd have to be hospitalized on returning home for shock and exhaustion.)

I suspect the problem is that India looks fairly compact and do-able on a globe; and in this current world of air travel and rapid rail service, distance means nothing. How do you explain that the complexity of multiple cultures, combined with the practical complications of getting from A to B, added to the really very great distances, makes these grandiose and hopeful plans utterly impractical?

We're trying to think of a concise, pithy way to get the scale of India across to these poor, misguided souls. The best we've come up with is this: "Doing all of India is like doing all of Europe plus all of North Africa you just can't hope to do it in one short trip."

Has anyone got anything better?
#2 Feb 10th, 2011, 22:54
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#2
Can't blame them. Someone looking at a World map, finds India so small compared to say the USA or Australia or EU. However the mistake is in carrying over the travel time/speed/convenience/efficiency that they might have seen elsewhere to India.

How can someone explain that the average speed of an overnight bus is just 40kmph or of an Express train is under 50kmph and that of a Superfast train not much higher.
#3 Feb 11th, 2011, 09:14
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#3
'Choose a small area and take it slowly' was the best advice given to me years ago by a friend who had lived a number of years in India.

It prompted me to change my extensive coverage of north, south, east and west India in six weeks, to just a small area in the south. I had a wonderful time, and understood what he meant as soon as I started my travels there. 'Slow' was the operative word.
Every cloud has a silver lining!
#4 Feb 11th, 2011, 09:54
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#4
These newbies need to learn on their own, by experience.

It is difficult to explain and convey the actual practicalities and surprises involved. Yes, their itinerary looks very ambitious and the experienced traveler knows it is highly impossible! You and I and others have gained experience from our planning and take it slow. These newbies will learn to do the same.

When someone posts a very ambitious itinerary, I just laugh and keep quiet. It is of no use telling them. They think you are a bonehead. Remember, they are looking at a map and judging the time to get there, from their experiences back home.

I did the same mistake once several years ago.

I had to get from Ranthambore to Jhansi (to go to Khajuraho) and bus was one option. Others have suggested taking a train to Agra and another train to Jhansi from there. Instead I took the bus and spent twice the time

. . . x Agra




x............x->Jhansi . . . . . . . . . . . . .x->Khajuraho
Ranthambore
.
Last edited by RWeHavingFunYet; Feb 11th, 2011 at 19:54..
#5 Feb 11th, 2011, 16:12
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#5
You are so right, RWeHavingFunYet! A map gives no idea of condition of roads, number of times animals will block it, which circuitous route the bus will actually take, how long it will stop for the chai shop etc. Nor the condition of the bus - although I must say in more recent years I have seen improvements all round for both.

Eleven years ago it took a minimum of six hours by jeep to Jodhpur - these days by car it can be done in just over four hours. The bus is still slower by more than an hour though.
#6 Feb 11th, 2011, 20:17
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by RWeHavingFunYet View Post These newbies need to learn on their own, by experience...
.
Granted.

But I feel I would be remiss in my duties as a crusty old geezer if I didn't at least try to save the inexperienced from their excesses. I can't just sit by and watch some ardent young buck run headlong at a brick wall without saying "Don't do that, lad, you'll hurt yourself."

If I were wise, instead of merely experienced, I'd realize that it wouldn't do any good. It is no doubt my own geriatric form of running headlong at brick walls, but I really think it ought to be possible to persuade newbies that they shouldn't plan to do all of India in one short trip.

Problem is, how do you sell "Less Is More" to the "Too Much Is Never Enough" crowd?
#7 Feb 11th, 2011, 21:15
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by hfot2 View Post But I feel I would be remiss in my duties as a crusty old geezer if I didn't at least try to save the inexperienced from their excesses . . . . . but I really think it ought to be possible to persuade newbies that they shouldn't plan to do all of India in one short trip.

Reminds of the hair-dye commercial for men. Two guys are sitting on a sofa: old guy with gray hair and a young fellow with dark hair. The old guy says, "My hair says experience," the young fellow replies, "My hair says energy."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aishah View Post A map gives no idea of condition of roads, number of times animals will block it, which circuitous route the bus will actually take, how long it will stop for the chai shop etc. Nor the condition of the bus
It's so true.

Aishah: On the same journey, from Jhansi to Khajuraho by bus, an interesting incident happened. There was a young couple with 2 girls, 5 and 3 and a baby in arms. The bus had Europeans and locals. After an hour's drive, we all heard a sudden shrill by this woman. She was crying at the top of her voice -- non-stop. The driver pulled over and the husband got out of the bus and started running back on the road looking for something which was dropped. Since the mother was crying the two little ones also started crying to keep their mother company.

What happened was, the baby was playing with her mother's ear-ring and it came loose and she threw it out the window of a fast moving bus. The conductor and the driver also joined in the search party.

The girls were also crying at the top of their voice and the mother asked the girls to stop it. Both the girls confronted their mother boldly and said, "if you stop crying we will stop crying, too."

After the cryings stopped, I asked the woman what happened. It seems they are going to attend a wedding in the next village and she borrowed a gold necklace, nose-ring and ear-rings. She mentioned that they are expensive and they can't afford to replace them as they are poor.

I knew for sure they would never find it. But guess what, the husband found it. Now, suddenly there were all smiles including the girls. I became friends with the girls, and while playing with them I suddenly break into a cry and tease them saying, "P a p a, .. M a m a" and they start giggling. It was so cute teasing them and kiddin' around.

They got off at a small village and I gave each girl a crisp Rs. 5 note, telling their mother to buy them candy. Even though the bus journey was delayed we all had fun.
Last edited by JuliaF; Feb 11th, 2011 at 23:00.. Reason: merged posts
#8 Feb 12th, 2011, 09:24
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#8
Enjoyed your story, RWHFY! Many a story on bus trips to be had, and this is the stuff of long journeys, when it looks short on the map.
#9 Apr 22nd, 2011, 05:54
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#9
Just tell us newbies what you just said, can't do it. We listen. I had a very extensive trip planned for my short two week trip. The Indian I am going to be traveling with had me send my plans before booking anything and laughed at me. After looking at train schedules and what not, I laughed as well. We will listen to people who have "been there, done that" especially when it comes to going to a country that we have never been to. Help us please!
#10 Apr 22nd, 2011, 05:56
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#10
We are waiting for the questions.
#11 Apr 22nd, 2011, 09:31
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by aarosh View Post We are waiting for the questions.
seeing as you asked....

I know you will all laugh at me

and I know that this is a lot.

http://www.indiamike.com/india/india...think-t133175/

but doesn't it seem feasible?
I know trains are rarely on time, but theres at least 12 hours between every train.

I know I won't see EVERY part of EVERY city I go to (or even close), I can live with that.

but is there any reason (other than the unexpected) that I will fail? The unexpected I can't account for, surely, but with what I have planned, am I bound to run into trouble? I can't change much, I leave tomorrow and the trains are mostly full.
#12 Apr 22nd, 2011, 10:27
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#12

a few guidelines for the newbies?

This whole subject might be a good idea for an article to go into the Beginner's forum along the lines of getting started as an IM member, i.e. "the basics." Could include general guidelines for a whole variety of topics, IM usage/rules, how to make the most out of the title of your intro, (I've noticed many newbies creating a thread that has nothing to do with introducing themselves, and then when they aren't properly welcomed, begin to feel left out and lose interest in general.) A guide on how to search the whole IM forum effectively so the same info is not asked again and again, new threads are not created for the same queries, and so on. (additional suggestions welcome) Of course the thoughts about how not to cram too much into one trip would be part of it.

It might alleviate a lot of confusion on the part of the newbie and possible frustration on the part of the old timers. Is this something that's been suggested before, or am I just not delving into the whole forum deeply enough? If it has indeed been tried, do tell. If not, perhaps we could all chip in and make suggestions as to specifics. Someone could edit it and voila, a guide for the "newly arrived!" Anyway, just a thought.... And no, I haven't read the beginner's forum lately, been two years so if this is already there...
#13 Apr 22nd, 2011, 14:25
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by gordie44 View Post but is there any reason (other than the unexpected) that I will fail? The unexpected I can't account for, surely, but with what I have planned, am I bound to run into trouble? I can't change much, I leave tomorrow and the trains are mostly full.
The most important thing is to see if your tickets for trains between 2 states are confirmed or not. If that is confirmed half the problem is solved. Inter state could always be done by buses.

Let me give an example. Suppose you have Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Delhi in your list of places. For me it is important that Delhi-Varanasi, Varanasi-Agra and Jaisalmer-Delhi train ticket is confirmed. The rest can be done by buses.

Also there are a few trains which has a seperate quota for foreign tourist which can be booked from a few major stations in India. http://www.indianrail.gov.in/international_Tourist.html. The downside is that these can only be booked in person when you are in India. So decide when you want to move from one state to another state and get those ticket confirmed. Also take a map and check the distance between the cities and see how much time it takes to travel between them.
#14 Apr 22nd, 2011, 21:16
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#14
I'm not sure its the scale of India that isn't clear to newcomers - if a train journey takes (at least) 24 hrs, its clearly a long way, however slow the train is!!! I think people hear about how brilliant lots of different places are and naturally don't want to miss things. So I would just want people to know (and believe!) how rich an experience you could have just seeing a few places. A friend of mine went only to Wardha (hardly ever talked about in travel forums) and Delhi (often moaned about in travel forums!) and had the most wonderful time, filled with crazy incidents (strangers' wedding parties, impromptu Maharasthran dance lessons, birthday party with huge extended Delhi family etc etc).

So: 'Choose a small area and take it slowly' is the best advice!!
#15 Apr 22nd, 2011, 21:26
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by aarosh View Post The most important thing is to see if your tickets for trains between 2 states are confirmed or not. If that is confirmed half the problem is solved. Inter state could always be done by buses.
Everything's confirmed! At the very least, I have sleeper class to rely on as a backup if my WL tickets don't get confirmed (theyre AC2, only WL1 or 2)

I also have a couple WL tickets and 1 RAC ticket that cuts the south and/or East out of my itinerary, in case they confirm AND I'm tired, then I can take these "shortcuts" (theyre all journeys over 24 hours!)

Hoping for the best!

thanks IM!

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