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15.o7.2o22 • New Delhi

when i was sitting in the plane somewhere above the clouds too sleepy to do anything specific but also too excited to sleep i started thinking about what it would be like to spend more than two months in india & of course i couldn’t find an answer to this question at that time but in my mind i started to make up a picture of myself in india & of my way of being in india. i started to think about what experiences i might have, what situations i might face & what kind of feelings i might feel. caught up in all those thoughts i slowly started to dream & eventually drifted into a short sleep together with all my ideas & illusions. yet there were no real expectations involved in my images of india as i couldn’t even picture it at all at this point. i only knew it would be very different from all that i had experienced before & that was the only thing i needed to know by then. everything else would come my way anyway :)) so when i stepped out of the plane after landing on the `new delhi international airport´ the first thing that reached me was a big wave of hot & stuffy air rolling right into my face. wow welcome to india i thought & instantly had to smile: suddenly the sleepiness was all gone & there was only pure excitement left in my body even though it was only six am & i didn’t really get any sleep that night. i turned around to matthias, we looked at each other with a big & tired smile on our faces & right in this moment we realized: we actually just made it to india !! then everything happend just like as we were in trance: we entered the border control, collected our luggage, changed some money into indian rupees & headed straight to the metro which took us to our hostel in `new delhi´ located in the district of `hauz khas´ which is in the southern part of this immense city. did you know that `new delhi´ has almost thirty million inhabitants ?! & we are talking about one single city here :)) crazy right ?! well this is what i thought as well but actually feeling this hugeness is a whole different dimension. so when we left the metro & finally reached the surface of the city we were overwhelmed once again (& it shouldn’t be the last time lol) there were so many people so many noises so much traffic & all those smells as well: it was like chaos mixed with fascination & overburdening at the same time !! for a second we just stood there staring at our new surrounding, unable to move & unsure what to do, totally overtired & extremely excited: it was such a weird mix of feelings really :)) somehow we managed to take a tuktuk (the cute little motor rickshaws cruising around everywhere) to our hostel called `let’s bunk´ where we could luckily already move into our room or better into our studio !! the room was perfect with several windows towards the `deer park´ a big comfi bed & most important: a working air conditioning lol :)) however, we didn’t really realize all that at this point but fell asleep almost the second we walked in: what a surprise lol. we then slept for approximately the whole day & woke up only because we got a little hungry. after a long cold shower we went out in order to find a little snack or something but instead ended up in one of the most popular south-indian cuisine places in whole `new delhi´ called `naivedyam´. well too bad or rather lucky us !! the food was extremely delicious & we tried several varieties of indian flatbread, rice curries & chutneys accompanied by a fresh mango lassi & the local masala chai with milk & sugar. you getting hungry now ?! we went back there two days later to try the famous indian thali: a big platter with all kinds of indian specialties & we would probably go there a third time if we would stay here for much longer :)) but how to sum up our few days in `new delhi´ that seemed like a whole month ?! there were so many different impressions each day & i am still processing all the input india gave me so far. what struck me the most so far surely were the huge differences: luxury hotels next to slums, beautiful & calm garden areas next to chaotic & loud streets & people walking their white breed huskys in the park where tons of street dogs are trying to find something to eat: now is the world wrong or is it wrong ?! it surely is but honestly i am so grateful for being able to see all this (based on an extremely privileged position of course) to be confronted with it & through this opening up my way to see the world my way of facing others & not at last myself. india is so much & i just can’t break it down in any way: we visited mosques & temples of such beauty, we tried the best food, we watched the most stunning red sunsets from the top of `fort hauz khas´ & even spotted wild chipmunks & parrots (they are so quick & cute lol i love them) & there will be so much more to see to feel & to try during our journey !! so if india is one thing it surely is a whole new world to me & i can’t wait to get to know this country better with every step i take.

17.o7.2o22 • Agra

after spending five days full of exploring the city, getting rid of jetlag & adjusting to the indian rhythm in `new delhi´ we were finally ready to move on & to go on our first little trans indian journey !! the next stop on our route called `agra´ is located south east of `new delhi´ & it takes about two to three hours to reach `agra cantt´ (the main train station of agra) by train. when booking a train ticket in india (indian railways is the official website) there are three options: SL the so-called sleeper which refers to the third class & is always super crowded, 2A equipped with proper seats & a little more space than SL & 3A which contains eight seats per unit & has air conditioning, which is why this class is the most popular as well as the most expensive one (we also booked 3A & paid 5oo rupees per person which is around five euros) we were prepared for the worst when boarding our train to `agra´ as we heard quite a lot of horror stories about the indian way of transportation but in the end our worries were completely unnecessary: the ride was surprisingly comfi (i even slept for a while) the people were super friendly & the craziest thing: we actually arrived on time !! after reaching `agra´ we took a taxi straight to `joey’s hostel´ where we would spend the next two nights. we were welcomed very open & friendly & immediately felt comfortable here. for the first time in india we got to meet other backpackers from countries other than india: in `new delhi´ we had only ever met indian tourists which was kind of cool but also kind of weird so now we were even happier to talk to french, italian as well as to austrian guys like anselm from vienna (haha the world is so small) but when the guy from the hostel showed us to the rooftop terrace we were completely out of words: the famous `taj mahal´ was standing right in front of us in all its beauty & monumentality. we couldn’t believe our eyes: was this even true ?! well it surely was but it would take some time (maybe forever) to get used to this kind of crazy view !! at six pm we all had masala chai with milk & sugar (the typical indian type of tea) together & then went off for a little evening stroll through the hood which was led by two guys from the hostel. we walked along the red walls of `taj mahal´ until we reached the river flowing through `agra´ called `yamuna´. the bright evening light hit us the moment we walked out to the riverside & we were overwhelmed by the view that opened up in front of us: the water shimmering red in the sunlight, birds circling around the towers of `taj mahal´ to our left & monkeys hopping from tree to tree on our right. in the background we could hear soft voices singing tantras in a near-by temple & locals talking to each other in hindi. once again this day we were overflown with joy & gratefulness. we sat down at the river & for a long time just watched & soaked it all in. when the sun was almost all gone two school boys came up to us & we started talking in english. i was amazed by how well they could speek & we communicated almost without any difficulties. they were interested & curious & it felt so good to get into touch with the locals without any pressure or stress for the first time. after the sun went down we walked back home together: the boys by bike & us walking next to them, talking & laughing from time to time: it must have made quite a cute picture: us four on our way home. before we parted they asked if they could take a selfie with us & of course we said yes. we got asked for photos so often in the past few days: i sometimes felt like a film star in the wrong film honestly :)) i guess indians are not really used to white people visiting their country. now the very last thing we needed this evening was something to eat & so we went down the street of our hostel to find a restaurant & we found `joney’s place´ !! it was the best choice: the cook came out of his tiny little kitchen & welcomed us warmly. he brought mango juice which was absolutely delicious & told us about his grandpa who owned this place once & about how proud he was to keep up the tradition of cooking good food for people who love good food. well he was at the right address here & us too lol :)) we tried the two typical indian dishes `malai kofta´ & `paneer pasanda´ together with butter naan bread & more mango juice & it was absolutely delicious !! this was one of the best days ever really !! the next day we had breakfast on the rooftop terrace of the hostel & then went to visit the `taj mahal´ which was an experience for itself: such an impressive & immense building: it really took my breath away. we walked through the beautiful park & couldn’t take our eyes off the building which in fact is a mausoleum & was built as a symbol of love in 1632. right when we walked inside of the mausoleum it started to rain heavily & all the visitors fled under trees or hid beneath the huge white stone walls. lucky us we could seek shelter in a mausoleum lol :)) in the evening we enjoyed hanging out with the other travellers from the hostel: we played music, drank kingfisher beer (the original & very tasty indian beer) & talked about our future plans. wow how I missed these hostel vibes !! for dinner we went to `joney’s place´ again of course & we were welcomed like old friends already :)) `agra´ really surprised me in any way possible: it felt so good to escape the hugeness & hectic of `new delhi´ but then again so much happened to us in `agra´. somehow it felt like india was challenging us on our first days & was now saying `alright you got it there you go´ & well this is exactly what we are doing. so right now we are sitting in the next train (took the 3A ticket again of course) from `agra´ to `jaipur´ & i am writing all this thinking about what the fuck already happened in our one week in india & about how happy i am right now !!

2o.o7.2o22 • Jaipur

we arrived in `Jaipur´ right in the second it started to pour down rain from the sky like waterfalls. we jumped out of the train & hid under the roof of the train station with hundreds of other people who were trying not to get soaked. one guy from the crowd suddenly came up to us cheered & smiled & told us thank you because we were the ones bringing good luck to `Jaipur´ as with our arrival the rain everyone here was desperately waiting for so long finally started. i liked that thought of us as lucky charms of `Jaipur´, smiled back at him & said you are welcome :)) but indeed the rain had something especially calming & the people around us were looking at the heavy rain with joy on their faces: it was finally cooling down for a bit !! the streets were flooded, the traffic stuck & the taxis stuffed with people on their way home. we waited for about ten minutes to see if the the rain would eventually stop at one point but it just kept pouring & so we decided to take a tuktuk to our hostel: an adventurous decision :)) our driver told us it wouldn’t be an easy ride but he would get us to our hostel safe & sound & so we took off into the flooded streets of `Jaipur´ lol what a beginning !! the streets were pure chaos: cars were stuck, busses were honking like crazy to get through & rikshaws couldn’t move in the mud. we were lucky our driver was an experienced one who managed to navigate through the traffic jam like a sneaky snake sliding through the streets & we didn’t get stuck one single time even though the water was flowing into the tuktuk & the motor made some very alarming noises but in the end we made it. our hostel in `Jaipur´ called `Pachamama Hostel´ was the perfect rest base & chill out area for us in the next few days or as the hostel owner told us `all shanti here´ (shanti means peace) & indeed the hostel had an especially calm & peaceful vibe. we made ourselves comfortable on the rooftop terrace full of cushions, chatted with other travellers & then had delicious lentil daal for dinner all together. we had a good sleep that night & woke up at around ten am the next day. that defintely was much needed :)) then we went out for breakfast & got ready to explore the inner city !! `Jaipur´ is famous for its handcrafted pottery, jewelry, clothing, wood works, ceramics, paintings & anything else you could imagine: a real shopping hotspot for handmade stuff of any kind in india !! market strolls therefore are an essential part of visiting `Jaipur´ right next to admiring the red stone architecture which is typical for the rajasthan region where `Jaipur´ is located in. we also visited the `City Palace´ which contains a museum for indian arts as well as selected local art stores & galleries. another huge highlight of our stay in `Jaipur´ was the so-called `Amber Palace´ which is located a little outside of the city & in the middle of green hills. we went to the base of the palace by tuktuk & then hiked up towards the top of the palace from where we were rewarded with quite a pretty good view. once again india opened up to us in a wholly new & different way: i just love how this country manages to surprise us over & over again !! on our return from `Amber Palace´ we stopped at the famous `Jal Mahal´ (which means water palace) located in the middle of the `Man Sagar´ lake: it was such a special sight. the water palace seemed to be burning in the red evening light while the deep blue water was floating all around it. however, what made me sad to see was all the trash lying around on the waterside. trash is one of the main problems in india in general: as there is nothing such as garbage collection or trah disposal in this country it is up to the people to get rid of it. in effect they just throw their trash on the streets or pile up huge trash hills on the streetsides as there is no other option. we couldn’t imagine this in austria or germany but here in india it is the normal thing to do: what you don’t need anymore you throw away no matter where. it is hard to see really & yet there is nothing we can do about it besides not throwing our own trash on the street. i wonder if this is going to change someday or if the trash hills are only gonna get bigger & bigger. anyway, i don’t want to downgrade india in any way here. it is different to anything i used to know & somehow i must learn to accept that & wow i am learning so much day by day !! on our last evening in `Jaipur´ we had the most delicious dinner with tikka masala curry, rice, roti & mango lassi in the city center. afterwards we strolled along the main market street towards the metro station when someone suddenly shouted at us: `hey hallo alles klar ?! kann ich sprechen deutsch mit ihnen ?! ich spreche deutsch ein bisschen.´ it was the first time we heard an indian person speaking german so we turned around & a young man with a big smile approached us. his name was malik, he was living in `Jaipur´ & his hobby was travelling as he told us. he loved travelling because like that one could meet so many new cultures & people. he had learned english, german, italian, spanish, french & russian in watching youtube videos in original languages & for some time we talked in a mix of different languages & wow he was speaking all of them so well !! however, he told us other than india he had only been to russia once in his lifetime but nowhere else. it was his dream to once travel to europe & to speak to the people there. a dream of many indians he told us but hard to realize as only applying for a visa is extremely hard with an indian passport. we had no idea. travelling wasn’t hard at all for us & malik admired us for that. for about an hour we talked about the world & us & about india & austria & we teached him a few more words in german which made him really happy. it was so interesting for us to get a grasp of the indian way of living & thinking. for many indians travelling to europe is a life goal. something only the very best achieve. so only in talking to us for a little his big dream started to come a little closer already & we were more than happy to share our world with him !! in the end he wished us safe travels wherever we would go & we wished him best of luck for his dream to come true.

22.o7.2o22 • Pushkar

namasté. namasté is sanskrit & expresses an ordinary indian greeting towards a person or a group & is also a way of honouring the vis-à-vis. namasté is made up of namás which means obeisance in sanskrit & te which means you. it is used in whole india as a daily greeting on the street & yet we heard it for the first time when we entered the holy city called `pushkar´. there are several holy cities in india & `pushkar´ is one of them. coming from `jaipur´ we had to travel to `ajmer´ by train & then take a mini van to get to `pushkar´ which is a tiny town hidden between three hills & located around a little lake in the middle. of course the lake is holy, too !! we came here because we were wondering what a holy place would look like & also because we needed a little break from the big city alias the chaos of `jaipur´. what attracted my attention first was the huge amount of cows standing or lying on the streets, slowly chewing some green grass & seemingly not being bothered by the traffic around them. cows are literally everywhere in `pushkar´ & of course they are holy, too !! cows are seen as holy creatures in whole india & people here would never kill a cow or even eat beef. cows are sacred & little statues of them can be found in every little shrine or temple & wow there are many of those in `pushkar´ !! but indians don’t eat a lot of meat in general. in fact india has more vegetarians than the rest of the world together, crazy right ?! instead of meat they comsume a lot of rice & potatoes & curries, of course :)) oh & while we are at it: here are some more random facts about india i found out about on our journey so far. there are 22 official languages in india plus hundreds of inofficial ones as the indian language differs from region to region. still the two main languages in india remain hindi & english whereas the three most spoken ones are hindi, bengali & marathi: english in fact is not that popular at all !! another thing i didn’t know about until a few days ago is the indian way to say yes: they simply shake their heads as if they were saying no. well in india it’s the other way round i guess: just as so many other things in this country :)) also what i mentioned just today is that on every single rupee note there is the image of mahatma gandhi on it: why ?! because he was kind of the key figure of the indian independence fight from britain & most indians still are extremely proud of him. on our journey we already watched several movies filmed in india & the biographic movie of gandhi was one of the best ones i have ever seen !! other indian movies i can highly recommend are `life of pi´ a fantastic story of an indian boy, `mumbai hotel´ based on a true terrorist attack in `mumbai´ in 2oo8 & `slumdog millionair´ which sets a focus on the slum culture in india & on how to possibly escape it. all of them are very intense & sometimes even shocking stories but still: they show a primary part of india as it is !! oh & indian literature must not be forgotten either: i am currently reading the novel `the ministry of utmost happiness´ by the indian feminist author arundhati roy which brings together indian history & current problematics of our society. but back to our journey now: in `pushkar´ we stayed in the cute `moustache hostel´ which is located near the lake & has a huge rooftop terrace with a good view all over the town. we loved spending our free time up there, reading, drinking fresh watermelon juice (my latest fav drink) or simply watching all the many monkeys chasing each other on the rooftops: a real show !! in the evening we strolled around the lake (all barefoot of course as the area near the lake is sacred & shouldn’t be stained in any way) passing all the beautiful & colorful shrines decorated with flower chains & orange om flags & watching the people bathing in the lake while indian music & the sound of drums was floating over the lake: it felt a little holy indeed !! at around seven pm we watched the sunset from a little bridge together with all the locals gathering on the lake side as well: the soft sound of music, the smell of roasted corn cobs & the red evening light wrapping us in an especially calm atmosphere & right then we could feel the magic of this place. i don’t believe in a certain religion but i do believe in my feelings & this moment there by the lake felt very special to me !! this special way of `pushkar´ would again surprise us the next day at the lake when we were introduced to a spiritual ceremony which is very common in holy places. we sat down next to the water with closed eyes & rose leaves in our hands. an old man from the temple was slowly singing vedic words & looked up into the sky before he dipped his finger into a red paste & marking us both with a red little line on our foreheads. in the end we had to put the rose leaves into the water & watch them floating away into the middle of the lake. as a sign of succesfully attending a holy ceremony he wrapped a red band around our wrists which we still are wearing. it’s our (sacred) little reminder of `pushkar´ now. yet another very special feeling reached me on our last evening in `pushkar´ when we hiked to the top of one of the three mountains where the peak is marked with a buddhist temple instead of a christian cross. the evening sun illuminated the white walls of the temple & the wind made the buddhist flag flutter in the cool evening breeze. people were sitting inside of the temple, praying & singing slow mantras. we sat outside & watched the busy town to our feet. the mountain is not very high yet everything down there felt miles away. it was just us, the wind & india all around us. we felt so connected with our surrounding at that point even the birds seemed to know what we were feeling !! & so we sat there watching the sun go down in `pushkar´ once again & feeling so very grateful for being able to see, feel & save all this in our hearts forever.

25.o7.2o22 • Udaipur

next stop & last one for us in rajasthan was `udaipur´ the so-called city of lakes as in 1669 several lakes were artificially created in the city center. the biggest one of them is `pichola lake´ which more or less divides `udaipur´ in two parts. our hostel called `trip in´ was located in the middle of the old town, near the shore of `pichola lake´ & around 5o meters from the famous `city palace´ known as one of the biggest in india. we arrived in `udaipur´ by train again which took us around five hours from `ajmer´ & which reminded me of how snack friendly the indian culture was lol :)) indians love to snack: on the train, in the strees, anywhere. on the train station there are little food stalls every few meters offering fried potato pancakes, hot chai & chips of any taste & shape (but always spiced very well) during the train ride people walk through the compartments offering rice with chickpeas & potatoes in big buckets or carrying bottles of hot chai. however, most indian travellers bring their own lunchbox & snacks & enjoy the whole ride either talking or eating which i myself find very sympathetic :)) but once we left the train & walked into the city center of `udaipur´ we were confronted with street food stalls all over again: potatoe fritters topped with different sauces & onions seemed to be very popular here as well as chapatis filled with various vegetables. the smell in the air was delicious & we soon tried one or two street food goodies: it was so yummy !! on our food stroll we also discovered the typical indian `gulab jamun´ which are fried, sweet & soft little balls prepared in huge bowls full of fat over the open fire & served in small portions with rose & cardamom syrup (yes it sounds as delicious as it was) for me it’s the indian equivalent to `quarkbällchen´ & whoever knows me also knows that i love `quarkbällchen´ !! but enough of the food in `udaipur´ because there were other nice things to do there too except of eating the whole day :)) the city of lakes is also a city of arts: especially fine pencil drawings, colorful clothing & tailor shops are very common in this area. on our last day in `udaipur´ we bought a super small & fine drawing of a little elepant with both our names in it: a keepsake for our sake. what we also liked a lot about `udaipur´ were all the cozy rooftop terraces with some pretty good lake views & wow there were many of them !! the houses here are built very tall & therefore have five to six floors which you can climb up if you are keen enough on a `buena vista´ & yes we were :)) next to `pichola lake´ we could also spot the mighty `monsoon palace´ from above the roofs of `udaipur´ which we visited the next day on our little tuktuk tour to `badi lake´ (yes another lake but this one was even a natural one) we also went into the big `city palace´ (student discount is finally a thing here & instead of 5oo rupees we only had to pay 1oo) & were stunned by its dimensions: it surely is one of the biggest & most fascinating palaces in india !! however, one of our biggest highlights in `udaipur´ was the traditional folk dance show in the cultural center `gangour ghat´: traditionally clothed women performed different local dances to the music of two men on drums & several background singers. it was a feast watching them. their movements were especially smooth & yet perfectly coordinated & exact. their colorful dresses were almost permanently flowing around their bodies during their rotations & dance moves. they played with little bells & one of them carried several pots on her head: one pot over another & one more with every dance !! it was an incredible show & in the end the whole crowd stood up, cheered & clapped enthusiastically. wow that was quite another deep dip into indian culture for us & we enjoyed it to the fullest !! in contrast to that we also encountered something not-so-indian in `udaipur´ which was a german café called `edelweiss´ haha we couldn’t believe our eyes. in fact the café was founded by a german guy 2o years ago & now they would still serve `apfelstrudel´ & `bananenbrot´ there which we had to try of course & it really tasted like homemade pastry: yummy !! so once again i end up talking about food wow i am impressed: seems to tell a lot about my priorities :)) but please give one more try: on our last evening in `udaipur´ we hiked up to the `karni mata temple´ located on a little hill not far from our hostel. there is a ropeway headed to the peak as well but as we consider ourselves experienced hikers (or something like that lol) we made our way to the top on foot. the hike took us about one hour & we were soaked in sweat when we reached the temple but damn we felt good !! everyone was staring at us up there: not only because we were the only white ones again but also because our heads were burning red from the hill running effort :)) we didn’t really have a sunset that evening but rather a cloudy view over the city but still our little evening trip was so worth it & we felt stronger than ever: so strong that we went back down by foot again & then even further towards the `rainbow´ restaurant where we had an absolutely amazing dinner with biryani (indian fried rice) & beer (the traditional indian kingfisher beer) right next to the lake. very well deserved i would say & the perfect last evening for us in `udaipur´: rajasthan really pleased us !! now ready to travel further south alias to the economic center of india called `mumbai´ we’ll see you soon.

3o.o7.2o22 • Mumbai

with more than 2o million inhabitants `mumbai´ (also known under its colonial name `bombay´) is the second biggest city in india after the indian capital `delhi´ which counts around 32 million people at the moment & the numbers are increasing year by year. so many people in one place are almost impossible for us to even imagine: austria barely counts 9 million & that’s a whole country. indian dimensions sometimes seem quite utopistic !! yet we went to `delhi´ & felt completely overwhelmed & yet we went to `mumbai´ a few days ago & felt .. well completely overwhelmed all over again but this time it felt different somehow as `mumbai´ opened up to us in a whole different way as `delhi´ did: we are travelling through india for around 2o days now (wow time flies) which connected us to this country in a way that can only be formed through experience & well we experienced quite a lot on our travels through india already. so in the end i guess it was us who were able to open up to `mumbai´ more than we could open up to `delhi´ simply because of the time we had inbetween to get in touch with india, to get a sense for this country & its people & to get a feeling for how we ourselves could make our way through this territory full of challenges & surprises. we took the night bus (which was surprisingly comfi as we went via sleeper bus & therefore had an actual bed all for ourselves on the bus) from `udaipur´ in the state of `rajasthan´ to `mumbai´ located in the more southern state called `maharashtra´: the ride took us solid 14 hours but in the end we made it all safe & sound to our hostel in the north of `mumbai´ !! first thing to do when arriving in a new city at 8 am in the morning: going for a coffee hunt, of course :)) lucky us we found the so-called `bombay to barcelona library café´ which wasn’t too far away from our hostel & had the best coffee we had in india so far !! as indians are mostly into chai (they seem to drink it all day everyday & there even is an indian profession called `chaiwala´ which is a person selling hot chai on the streets & there actually are so many of them because they are on such high demand: wow i just love india for its madness & chai addiction) coffee places here either offer instant coffee or no coffee at all which is why we were very surprised to find a coffee spot where they actually had real good (non instant) coffee !! big thanks to `bombay to barcelona library café´ at this point for supporting viennese coffee lovers & for having such a lovely coffee place & book store. do i even have to say we went there every morning while we were in `mumbai´ ?! another thing we encountered this morning was `ladi pav´: a typical indian white fluffy bread (kind of a salty `milchbrötchen´) which we bought in a small bakery where people were already lining up to get the fresh fluffy goodness. we paid 15 rupees (almost nothing) for 6 `ladi pav´ & enjoyed them to the fluffiest uhm no fullest sorry :)) quite a good start for us & `mumbai´: even the streets seemed a little less chaotic & we could walk along without being stopped by sellers every few minutes. it felt like a real refreshment !! however, there are some dark sides of `mumbai´ too, of course & i don’t want to pass them over: almost 6o percent of the people living in `mumbai´ are stuck in slums. the biggest slum in `mumbai´ is called `dharavi´ & holds almost one million people !! it’s impossible to imagine what living there must be like & my heart hurts writing this knowing that there is absolutely nothing i can do about it. not even the government cares: there are being built huge new housing complexes all over `mumbai´ yet there is no solution for improving the situation of the poor !! money reigns the world: especially a world of corruption & human rights violations. but enough of indias dark sides. `mumbai´ actually was a very special spot for us as it was our first time at the coast of the indian ocean on our journey so far !! from `marol´ (the area where our hostel was located: in the north of `mumbai´) we took the train to the city center called `churchgate´ which took us about half an hour & 2o kilometers. of course it wasn’t a normal train ride as we know it but rather another unique experience: the trains in `mumbai´ generally have no doors & are overcrowded most of the time. in consequence people are jumping on or off the train while it’s still driving & hang out of the train with barely holding on with one hand: it’s the normal way to go in `mumbai´. no `please mind the gap between the train & the platform´ announcement lol: just a guy telling us `you gotta be quick if you want to get out at the next station´ & `you better jump off now´. well that’s what we did & we are still alive !! that’s how we made our way to `back bay´ alias to our first stop at the indian ocean in india :)) it was such a special feeling for us to be back at the sea once again. somehow just the sight of the sea always makes me feel the endless expanse of the water & of the whole world: it makes me feel so free !! after sitting at the shore of  `back bay´ for a while & looking into the distance we carried on & went into the cultural center of `mumbai´. we visited the `national gallery of modern art´ where an exhibition of indian art by the artist rini dhumal was shown. the paintings were extremely expressive & we could literally feel all the colors & shapes !! the museum even played soft indian music in the background so one could dive into the art even more: an amazing art experience for us which we didn’t expect at all !! then we went to `bademiya´ for lunch. the location is well known in `mumbai´ for its delicious seekh kebabs & so we went there to try them aswell. conclusion: not only the food was amazing but our company was, too !! an indian guy inside of the restaurant invited us to his table, made us try all the dishes he ordered & told us about kerala (where he was from) & where we should go in the south of india. he was extremely friendly, polite & helpful & in the end we ordered desserts for three. i just love such random encounters !! after this lovely lunch we went to see the famous `gateway of india´ & the `taj mahal hotel´ where the terrorist attack in 2oo8 took place: quite intense to see the building in real !! but what struck me the most was our visit at `leopold café´ located right next to the `taj mahal hotel´ where the shooting of the terrorist attack once began & where you can still see the bullet holes in the windows now !! however, the café is one of the most popular coffee places in town today & many people come here to read the daily newspapers. next to `leopold café´ there is the beginning of a huge street market where they offer almost anything: clothes, jewelry, kitchenware, fresh fruits & also books !! this was literally the first time we spotted a book store in india: they had a huge selection of modern english novels & indian literature. happy about our find we inspected all the different books when suddenly `mein kampf´ was lying there between `5o shades of grey´ & `eat pray love´. what the fuck ?! i was shocked. also because in fact this book seemed to be quite popular with indians !! in the end we bought fresh dragon fruits instead of books: it felt better that way. the next day we went to an area called `dadar´ which again was just one huge market full of people & anything you could image !! but we quite enjoyed the hustle & bustle: we strolled around, watched the people & eventually ended up in a hindu temple of the godess `ganesha´ which is one of the most important ones in the hindu religion. we walked further to `mahim bay´ another beach of the indian ocean in `mumbai´ & had a little picnic there. do you remeber the `ladi pav´ i mentioned in the beginning ?! well they offered them there as well but this time filled with potatoes & spicy sauces: it’s called `vada pav´ & it tasted even better than the `ladi pav´ itself !! 4 vada pav plus 2 little paper cups of hot masala chai (the best one we had in india so far) made it a perfect little picnic on the beach for us :)) afterwards we walked down the beach which again was full of cows lol: `no cow no way´ that’s the way of india i guess !! we really enjoyed our time in `mumbai´ & it didn’t feel stressful for us at all: we were rather surprised by its calm places & open people. on our last morning in `mumbai´ we went to `noor bakers´ (to collect some ladi pav for the way) & to `bombay to barcelona library café´ (to have one last good coffee) & then took a shared taxi to get to our next destination in india called `pune´. namasté `mumbai´ thank you for being so open & honest !!

o5.o8.2o22 • Arambol

we eventually made it to goa: to one of the most scenic places in all india & to one of the most popular holiday destinations amongst indians (well at least in high season) as we are travelling in low season alias monsoon season (as it is raining a lot) there are almost no tourists around & it is calm & kind of under crowded which we really enjoy. also we don’t mind the rain: it rather is a very welcome refreshment !! it’s our fourth day here in goa or more precisely in `arambol´ which is a small town right by the indian ocean located in the north of the indian state goa which again is known for its beautiful beaches, hippie vibes & huge parties beneath palmtrees (mostly combined with lots of drugs) however, as we are visiting india in the monsoon season we don’t have to worry about drunk party people in hostels or crowded beaches which i very much appreciate :)) travelling in low season is one of the best things in my opinion. there is no rush, no pressure, no overload but rather more of what a country really looks like. most tourist hotspots are closed in low season. what remains are the local places !! so if i have to choose between having the full range of restaurants or having to stick to one local food spot without being surrounded by crowds of tourists everyday i much prefer the second option. what i want to say: yes there might be less variety, yes there might be rain three days in a row & yes there might only be one bus a day but i cannot tell how much i enjoy the silence, the calm atmosphere, the few other tourists we meet & the many locals we get to talk to !! from `mumbai´ we went to `pune´ & then further to `arambol´ by night bus which was quite a bumpy & curvy ride (so bumby & curvy i even had to throw up on the bus lol) but somehow i managed to get some sleep & we arrived in `arambol´ without any further problems. we went straight to our hostel called `dreamcatcher house´ which is located right on `arambol beach´ (one of the most beautiful ones in goa) & were welcomed by the cutest little black & white dotted puppy named `bingo´: love at first sight. we also already knew the hostel owner from our stay in `jaipur´ where we randomly met him in our hostel there & came to talk to each other. he told us about how he travelled the world for 12 years,  then settled down in goa & built a hostel there in covid times. he said it would be very `shanti shamanti´ (the max of chilled out in indian informal language) in `arambol´ at that time of the year & oh yes it was !! he invited us for a morning coffee & we were stunned by the ocean view from our terrace !! there was nothing more but the simple sound of waves, the rustle of the sea breeze in the palmtrees & here & then a little `bingo´ demanding a play partner. it was the perfect place for us after all the hustle & bustle of the city. from on the first day we felt so refreshed, relaxed & kind of reborn really. the power of nature is not to be underestimated !! after one day of recovering from the night bus drive i suddenly felt so much energy & joy: the ocean appeared to have such a calming effect on us & we could just sit on our terrace watching the waves, reading a little & enjoying it to the fullest. it was a little like dreaming but better :)) so yes we loved our cozy place in `arambol´ & even though i could have just stayed on our sea view terrace forever we had some very exciting days going on here: i’ll tell you all about it !! day one is called the `sweet water oasis´ & soon you’ll see why. in the morning we woke up to the sound of waves & needed a few minutes to realize where we actually were. being in goa still felt like a very realistic dream. one cold shower & a little happy dance later we were ready to start the day & to explore `arambol´: we walked down the main road (too small to be called a main road in germany lol) & soon realized that most of the stores were closed. would we find a good coffee place ?! for a second i was worried but then i remembered the `shanti shamanti´ way of goa & i knew we would find something somewhere & well of course we did. the coffee was delicious & we ended up having a real brunch ordering pancakes, croissants & one slice of freshly made cheesecake (which was still warm & overwhelmingly tasty) the perfect start into our first day in `arambol´. fully energized we hit the road again & walked along the sea shore towards the north where an impressive rock formation was pointing out of the water. the sea was wild & white spume was splashing against the black rocks. it was quite a scene !! soon it also began to rain (or better to drizzle) & the sea went deep black. we enjoyed the weather & walked along until we reached another little beach where the waves crashed on the shore with a big swoosh. behind the beach we found a little lake surrounded by palmtrees: the `sweet water oasis´ !! the water was warm & calm & we instantly went for swim: it was a pleasure. as it wasn’t really deep we just floated around for a little until another indian guy came up to the lake & asked us if this was the famous `sweet water lake´. well yes it certainly was just not too famous as it was only us three by then :)) he joined our lake floating & soon we started talking about all sorts of things: he was from the east of india & currently visiting his sister & her one year old baby in goa. he worked as a screenplay writer back home & therefore pretty much loved movies & songs & stuff. he gave us a huge input on good indian movies & an insight into the way they work: there must always be at least one dance song in an indian movie to make it a proper one lol !! the scene where music plays & people start to dance is meant to transport feelings or sympathy & to drag the viewer deeper into the play (or simply to have some time to get snacks as the indian guy told us haha) we had the best time together & ended up talking about religion & politics & he told us about indian history, the fight between india & sri lanka & about the saga of rama who once built a bridge out of stones between the south of india & the north of sri lanka. we learned so many new things. even the school system in india was new to us: you choose between arts, commerce & science at the age of 16 (changing this choice afterwards can be quite hard & expensive) & amongst them science is still seen as the best & most promising choice for a good & prestigious life even though arts (including social services) is needed much more. honestly, when did a system ever make full sense ?! talking to the indian guy really opened our eyes & we got to know so much background information about india which now helps us to understand certain situations or habits in a much better way !! this little `sweet water oasis´ there wasn’t only such a beautiful natural place but also the best meet up point we could have chosen: even the sun came out for a little while :)) in the afternoon we walked back along the beach & were once again stunned by the view of palmtrees by the sea. we stopped at a little restaurant located right on the cliffs & had our first ever fish thali (seafood by the sea is a must isn’t it ?!) & it was so good !! the rest of the day we just enjoyed & relaxed & in the evening we cooked by ourselves (pasta with veggies & tomato sauce) & did a little local beer tasting: the `maka beers´ in goa are pretty good i can tell !! at 7 pm he watched the most magical burning red sunset from our terrace & once again i felt incredibly grateful & thankful: what a first day in `arambol´ but the next ones were quite ok aswell :)) day two was our `chill out day´: we had breakfast in the cute little café with the delicious cheesecake & then went for a looong beach stroll on `arambol beach´ which connects with the `mandrem beach´ in the south. we walked & walked & talked & watched the waves & the fishermen on their fishing boats & felt the sea breeze on our faces: anything else i need to say ?! it felt like we were in the right place at the right moment & of course we were indeed. right here right now: it’s all that matters. in the evening we were invited for dinner by the hostel owner & talked until late at night. we ate & laughed & everything was perfectly fine. wow we slept so good that night !! day three was an adventure day again & i call it the `mood 4 scoot´ as we rented a scooter that day. we didn’t really knew where we wanted to go but we just headed down south & always took the small streets leading us along the ocean & drove to the most scenic places like that. also there was not much traffic at all & so we could just enjoy the ride: we passed lots of cows lying on the streets but they seemed rather slow going :)) with our scooter we made it until `aguada´ that day where we had lunch (fish thali again: so yummy !!) & then returned to `arambol´ right before it started raining. just in time i would say as it was raining heavily for the rest of the day: lucky us. but going by scooter really is the way to go in goa: everyone got one & for us it was the best way to explore the surroundings of `arambol´. won’t be our last time on a scooter for sure & also it is so fun driving: i love it !! our fourth day in goa was quite sporty: we went for a hike from `arambol beach´ to `querim beach´ on a beautiful but very small hiking trail along the cliffs. the views were beyond beautiful & the whole hike was so worth it !! when we arrived on `querim beach´ the first thing we did was diving into the sea for a little cool down & it was the best feeling ever :)) then we hiked back to `arambol beach´ in flipflops & bikini lol but we made it back home in one piece: very exhausted but also very happy. we spent the rest of the day reading, writing & planning our further travel steps. in the evening we went out for a really good dinner right on the beach & said goodbye to `arambol´ as we bought a beautiful handmade dreamcatcher from a little local store. wow we had an amazing time here & as sad as it is to leave such a place i always know that experiences like this will never be forgotten but will stay forever !! & even though that day was our last one in `arambol´ it wouldn’t be our last one in goa. today we travelled from the north of goa to the south & we can’t wait to spend some more days in goa (one of our fav parts in india so far) & to enjoy the beach life in `canacona´.

o8.o8.2o22 • Canacona

our second stop in goa: `canacona´. here we stayed in a little jungle lodge called `bhakti kutir´ located between the two main beaches of `canacona´ called `palolem beach´ & `patnem beach´. for three days we called a wooden hut with outdoor shower & monkeys as neighbours our home. it was a whole new experience for us: so exposed to the power of nature but also so near to our natural surrounding. we really felt like a part of the jungle. especially in the night when we could hear the monsoon raining down on our roof in waterfalls. the jungle around us was full of sounds: animals climbing up the roof & coconuts falling down from palmtrees. it was a bunch of completely new noises we came to listen to !! one night some chipmunks even stole the rest of our nut mix which we accidently left open on our nightstand. they must have enjoyed the treat !! but all of this connected us with nature & made us realize what there actually is all around us. we felt grounded once again, reunited with earth & not at last reminded of all the luxury we mostly take for granted. is there any better feeling than taking an ice cold shower in the middle of the jungle ?! i doubt it. or wait .. maybe the best feeling rather is not to get stung by mosquitos in the night haha. a huge praise to mosquito nets at this point !! it’s a real life saver. we literally couldn’t have survived without one !! our stay at `bhakti kutir´ really was a unique & very important experience for us: it was so different, it felt so real & wow we enjoyed our little jungle nest so much. we literally felt like two baby monkeys in their natural habitat lol :)) right after our arrival in `canacona´ we went to explore `patnem beach´ where we found ourselves surrounded by nobody but a few dogs chilling on the beach. a whole beach just for us !! it was quite an unreal scene. we walked along the beach, watched the waves & felt pretty happy to be back at the sea again: goa really makes it hard not to love it !! the next day we checked out the other one: `palolem beach´ which was a little more crowded than `patnem beach´. we even spotted some humans there lol :)) the reason for that: it is possible to go swimming on `palolem beach´. the waves are way too wild on `patnem beach´ !! so we sticked to `palolem beach´ as well & explored the backwaters there. once again we made our way through the jungle, balanced over shaky bridges made of thin tree trunks & watched the fishermen cruising through the backwaters with their boats. no tourists far or wide !! we loved it. at the end of our backwater safari tour we came back to the beach again & finally went for a swim in the ocean !! such a good feeling. even some locals joined us as on our ocean swim !! in the afternoon we walked down the whole beach again & reached our jungle hut via a small path leading through the deep green outback of goa. felt like a drop out from society for a short while lol !! but sometimes i wonder how it would feel like to escape from the system for real. must be difficult & relieving at the same time. no worries mum i will always come back :)) in the evening we went to a little restaurant right by the sea where we had some amazing seafood dishes like baked prawns & fried kingfish. really enjoyed that petit gourmet voyage !! the next morning we went on a beach walk again. it was still early & the sea was all covered in mist. a beautiful sight. so calm & quiet. we walked & watched when suddenly within seconds it started to rain heavily. just indian monsoon season i guess :)) we decided it was time for coffee. lucky us we found `the mill´ alias a cute little coffee place in the heart of `palolem´ the small town behind `palolem beach´. we had a long & comfi breakfast there. indian music was playing in the background & we could here the hard rain outside. it felt so cozy & as it was gonna rain for the whole day we decided to stay here for a bit: reading, planning our next steps & just enjoying the atmosphere. that was quite a good idea as the travel planning took a little longer than expected: `hampi´ would be our next stop. but getting there was another problem !! luckily we met a spanish couple in the coffee shop who also wanted to go to `hampi´ & helped us. together we figured out a good way & booked the train for the following day. our next destination was settled: we felt curious about the awaiting journey & sad at the same time about leaving the seaside as `hampi´ is located in the inland of india. however, we would surely come back to the sea again !! the most southern state of india called `kerala´ is still waiting for us & there we will see the sea again for sure. goodbye goa & goodbye seaside (just for now) soon off to `hampi´ alias one of the most beautiful unesco world heritage sites in whole india: can’t wait !!

12.o8.2o22 • Hampi

hey there `hampi´ !! back in one of the holy cities of india once again: our second one after `pushkar´ & once again a very special atmosphere opened up when we arrived in the holy city of `hampi´. we took the tuktuk from the train station into town & then walked to our hostel. it was early afternoon, the sun was shining & the wind was blowing quite strongly. huge temples & towers piled up to our sides & the golden color of the stones reflected in the sunlight. monkeys made their way through the streets next to cows & zebus (a typical indian cow race with a big hunch on their shoulders) a little herd of goats passed by as well. once again we were surrounded by a totally different world. from one second to the other we felt miles away from the easy going art of life in goa & were fascinated by the spiritual & intense feeling that caught us in `hampi´. even though it is a very small town there is tons to do & see there. archeological ruines can be found all around `hampi´ as well as beautiful stone formations: the natural round red rocks out of sandstone draw the main part of the landscape in karnataka (the indian state beneath goa) & especially in the region of `hampi´. the land literally consists of palmtrees, banana plants & red round rocks with the tiny town of `hampi´ in the middle & hundredes of temples & ruins spread all over the place. a real explorer’s paradise !! we were stunned by the whole new look of this part of the country: india can be so completely different inside of itself. no more sea now but rather rocks: ok we are ready !! we checked into our lovely little hostel right next to `hampi bazaar´ one of the biggest archeological ruins & then went for a little walk through the few narrow streets there are in `hampi´. we spotted all kinds of animals mostly dogs, cows, monkeys, chipmunks, goats & also big black water buffalos !! there is a river right next to `hampi´ called `tungabhadra´ which carries a lot of water during this time of the year & attracts all kinds of animals. but also people gathered at the river side to catch fish or just to sit there & watch the currents. we joined them for a while. then we went back into town, the red sand burning on our faces as the wind still blew like crazy & then went up to a cute rooftop restaurant for a little afternoon break. the restaurant was equipped with colorful carpets & cushions on the floor & small tables so one could sit or even lie on the floor which was extremely comfortable. the view from the terrace was amazing as well !! we could see so many temples just sitting there. wow we were stunned by `hampi´: so small yet so fascinating & full of surprises !! so we were sitting there on our rooftop terrace, soaking up all the newness around us & then we even got to taste it lol: we ordered fresh banana lassi (it’s a must drink in india as the baby bananas taste so good there) & another south indian specialty called rice pudding. doesn’t sound that special i know but wow it was !! indian rice pudding is simply made of rice, milk, sugar, almonds, cashews, cardamom & a pinch of salt & it tastes absolutely amazing. in fact it tastes like the indian malasa chai only it’s a little sweeter & of a creamy consistency: well we definitely found our new fav dessert right there !! lucky us the owner of the restaurant shared the recipe with us so we can prepare it when we get back home again: let me know if you would like to try a spoon or two :)) together with a good fruit lassi it’s a real feast trust me !! but enough of the tasty side of `hampi´ let’s get to the smelly side lol: `hampi´ is also known for its incense stick production which is why after our rooftop terrace chillout we visited a tiny little incense stick factory in our street where we could watch the production process. it was so interesting as i’ve never seen something like it before !! there are so many different aromas, scents & smells: so many possible combinations of creating a certain atmosphere through incense sticks: it really impressed me !! of course we bought some sticks there as well: sandal wood, rose & lotus flower (a good mix pro harmony & anti mosquitos) after this smelly excursion we eventually returned to the tasty one & had dinner at `mango tree´ the most popular food spot in `hampi´ where locals sit on bamboo mats & drink their ginger mint juice (another `hampi´ special) we joined the locals & really had the very best south indian thali there (with various chutneys, dips & sauces served with jasmin rice & chapati) it was delicious !! but talking about chapati: did you know there are more than 15 different sorts of indian bread ?! chapati is just one of them & actually the most basic one: there is also naan, roti, dosa, paratha, pani etc. :)) oh yes in the beginning i was confused, too !! but learning by doing i guess: you just gotta try them all & find out what you like best. for me it’s the butter naan or simply a plain paratha: still all the indian breads taste amazing & go well with any kind of indian dish !! but let me tell you about our first real day in `hampi´ now: it was finally time for a temple tour alias a hiking excursion through the archeological ruins of holy `hampi´. we started off with a quick breakfast at `ganesha´ (it’s a cute little café in our street named after an important indian goddess in the shape of a dancing elephant) & set off for the `hampi temple´ the oldest & highest one in `hampi´. it’s more or less a huge tower of red stone rising into the sky, opening up a small passage on its base & forming the entrance to a large temple complex stretching out behind. we took off our shoes (as it must be done when entering a holy area) & deliberately made our way through the stone gate. a cow was waiting for us on the inside: she was beautifully dotted in brown & white & just standing right there in the middle of the temple looking at us. i don’t know why she stood there. maybe she was just waiting for us. i strocked her for a bit, then she licked my hand & walked out of the temple. people in india say cows are holy beings: so maybe i was being blessed by the cow in the temple right then. somehow i like that thought & somehow it felt a little spiritual indeed :)) anyway, we made our way further through the temple, watched monks praying in front the shrines & monkeys stealing bananas that were meant as offerings to the gods. oh india can be so beautifully chaotic & at least one time a day i think: india is crazy !! it probably is anyway but i like it. aren’t we all at least a little bit crazy ?! we continued our temple tour & explored a huge green hill area full of old ruins & impressive rock formations. monkeys were sitting everywhere & watching us carefully. eventually we found a hiking trail which we followed until we reached another amazing location full of stone art & architecture which very much reminded me of `angkor wat´ a beautiful old temple in thailand. then we took a right turn to hike up `matanga hill´ the highest hill in `hampi´ where there is another impressive temple located on its top. when we reached the peak we were completely soaked in sweat & absolutely speechless: the view was insane !! we could see the river, the temples, the town .. everything. it was amazing !! then the priest of the temple invited us to join his prayers & together we chanted some indian mantras while he lit candles in front of a shrine dedicated to ganesha. in the end he blessed us with red dots on our foreheads & wished us a safe further journey. another unexpected event. india is pretty good in such things !! we walked down the hill again & then further until `vithalla´ where another famous temple is located. there we also had lunch in a tiny bamboo hut for 2oo rupees (ca. 2 euros) & it was one of the best indian meals we had so far: vegetable fried rice, masala dosa & several cups of hot chai, of course !! the man who cooked for us was so happy we liked his simple lunch which he prepared with the minimum of cooking equipment over the open fire. well the simple things often are the best ones. after lunch we visited the `vithalla temple´ (which had free admission because of the independence holidays: otherwise it would have cost 6oo rupees which is quite a lot for indian conditions) & then started our way back home to `hampi´ again. it was quite a march & we were passed by several tourists who chose to be transported back in golf carts but we rather walked: it felt better that way :)) we arrived in `hampi´ in the late afternoon: exhausted but happy. what a day !! we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing & reading on our fav rooftop terrace: such a good end to such a good day. the next morning woke us with sunshine. we got ready & then went to `ganesha´ again where we tried a typical indian breakfast this time which consists of  `paddu´ (little rice pancakes) & `uttappa´ (baked bread with vegetables & hot sauce) it was different but really good !! we decided to go on another tiny temple tour again & took a tuktuk to `lotus mahal´ where we explored the surroundings. however, as it was very sunny, hot & windy that day we didn’t hike as much as the day before but rather spent the afternoon in `hampi´ reading, relaxing & planning our next steps: `bangalore´ would be our next stop on our journey & we would go there by night train. another challenge for us but it would work out just fine (in fact the ride was super comfi & enjoyable & we slept the whole night) sometimes it’s easier just to try things rather than overthinking them for too long !! so here we are now: back to the big city life in `bangalore´. but wow one last huge shoutout to the holy city of `hampi´. it meant such a special place to us: so wild so crazy so different. so full of surprises. so unpredictable & unmatchable. just as india itself !!