भारत

FEW PLACES CAN COMPETE WITH THE SENSORY OVERLOAD THAT IS INDIA (भारत). More of a subcontinent than a country, the Indian peninsula is a place where both the volume and the color contrast have been turned up to 11, and beyond. Spices, costumes and music are all exaggerated well beyond the point of saturation. Loud, proud and in-your-face, that is the Indian personality.

Physical Location Map of India, within the entire continent
Bharat (India) occupies an entire subcontinent

Every land is holy, but India is holier than most. More than that, this civilization has turned religion into a science, giving the world such cosmological concepts as karma and reincarnation, chakras, yogis and yoga. Mantras, yantras and Tantric sex. I was surprised once that even the lowliest porters at a hotel have an understanding of palmistry... and they believe in it too. Gurus rock like celebrities of the West... whether they sit surrounded in opulence at an ashram in the mountains, or caked in mud on a dusty street among the flies.

Brimming with diversity, India has a knack of absorbing influences and incorporating them into its mix, masala sryle. The Dravidians were the first here, arriving from Africa. They are now crammed into the south of the subcontinent, along with Sri Lanka -- the real India in my opinion, with its dosais and pyramidical temples. The Aryans later migrated from the north, speaking Indo-European languages, and bringing with them Persian tastes in architecture and music. Hindi, one of India's official languages, is written in the Devanagari script, which is apparently based on Sanskrit.

THINGS TO SEE

INDIA HAS IT all from tropical beaches to blazing deserts to the mighty snowcapped mountains of the north. Those mountains (the Himalayas) are of course the tallest in the world and they loom large in Indian mythology. Wherever you go, beauty and depravity will parade before you, comingling the sacred and the profane. Pyres on the ghats, charred body parts floating in the Ganges River. Jungles studded with ancient monuments, which give way suddenly to teeming slums. In the urban jungle of the metros, you will be confronted with a deluge of faces, races, creeds and castes, to match the Pantheon of Gods in the sky. For example, the Chettiars are a moneylending caste from Madras Chennai, who later became influential in Malaysia and Singapore. I believe the Gypsies are themselves a lost tribe of Indians who were expelled for cheating a King...

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Dating and Mating Indian Style! Three years in India

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Contact the author Rob Sullivan at coderot@gmail.com. Copyright December 2012.