Graham and Beth Docksey represent a new style of Australian baby boomer. Not content with tending the garden, or even taking off around the country in a caravan, they’ve dedicated the last few years of their lives to exploring all four corners of the planet. We asked Graham a few questions about their tour of India.
What were your general impressions of India before visiting?
A mystical country with millions of people. Interesting spicy foods. Possibility of being very crowded. Hot with crazy traffic. Lots of colour, elephants, markets and shops. Iconic buildings.
What were you most excited about before visiting?
Because we were visiting the Golden Triangle, it was seeing the Taj Mahal and Jaipur, the Pink City.
First impressions after landing?
Receiving a lovely marigold garland on arrival in New Delhi. The amount of traffic and people on and around the roads. Being thankful the coach that transferred us to the hotel was air conditioned and had bottled water. Seeing areas of the city where it was beautiful and clean and others that were littered with rubbish.
What was the cultural highlight?
Visiting the Amer Fort in the Pink City of Jaipur. We took the traditional elephant ride up and they were decorated with lovely chalk drawings all over their skin. As we reached the fort, we could see the beautiful royal palace below with its garden and water features. Walking around, we saw so many incredible mosaics and frescos. It’s a magnificent place.
The other cultural highlight was when we walked to the entry gate of the Taj Majal and saw it shimmering like a mirage in the distance. That’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.
India is an experience that engages all your senses.
How was the food?
The food was very traditional Indian food, and we really liked that, because on other tours like China they Westernise the food. While eating curries for breakfast was a bit of a culture shock, we adapted and enjoyed a lot of yummy food. The deserts were wonderful.
What are the people like?
In general, the people are lovely and engaging. It’s sad seeing so many of them begging in the traffic.
What surprised you most?
The poverty and ramshackle housing.
Jaipur, because it wasn’t as busy as New Delhi, and had so many different things to see – the magnificent pink wall surrounding the city, the markets, the sari and carpet factory, the temple at Talik Nagar and Jantar Mantar, which is an amazing park of gigantic sundials, zodiac circles, and other celestial instruments made from stone.
How different is it looking at photos of India and being there?
Very, very different. India is an experience that engages all your senses. To see, touch, hear, smell and taste India is incredible.
What will be your lasting memories of the place?
The colours, the flavours, the history, the magnificent buildings, the bustle of the cities, and the vast divide between the haves and the have nots.
What would you say to someone thinking of going?
Go, by all means, but be prepared for some shocking sights. The place is so intriguing, mystical, stark, confronting, and beautiful, all in one. That’s what drew me there in the first place and seeks to draw me back there again in the future.
TripADeal travels to here
Image by Varshesh Joshi