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A wedding anniversary shrouded by death

I don’t imagine many American couples celebrate their first wedding anniversary in Varanasi, India. We certainly didn’t plan to, but we honestly didn’t spare much thought to the occasion because we had a single objective on our minds: exiting India as quickly as possible. After just two weeks, we were physically and mentally exhausted by…

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Tiger! Tiger!

Sweat beaded on my forehead as we sat silently in the back seat of our safari vehicle, an Isuzu Gypsy with no roof and two rows of bench seats in the back for passengers to play lookout. We had been parked, engine off, for several minutes now waiting, watching…listening. The penetrating silence was interrupted only…

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I’m not an ATM

“Can I have 100 rupees?” asked the young boy. He appeared no more than 7 though he assured me he was 13. He and his friends had just finished playing cricket in the field behind our abode in Khajuraho, the Hotel Isabel Palace. “No, I don’t think that would be OK,” I responded, taken aback…

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Adventures in India train travel, Part II: A stampede

I hear India train travel can be luxurious. We never experienced that kind of travel. Luxury, to us, was the air conditioning units within the stuffy, submarine-like train cars that ferried us between New Delhi and Agra and later, between Agra and Khajuraho. We rode both routes 3AC, meaning our doorless nooks within the cars…

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You look like an idiot pinching the Taj Mahal’s dome (and other observations from Agra)

There were only two occasions on the World Trip during which I felt my life was actually in danger. One of the incidents took place during our Everest Base Camp trek (more on that later). The other took place in Agra. We arrived in Agra after a two-hour train ride from New Delhi, our inaugural…

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Adventures in India train travel, Part I: Shit on the tracks

The New Delhi station was swarming with people and stray dogs, and the smell of sewage was pervasive. I assumed the stench emanated from the bathroom (perhaps an overflowing latrine?) – until I watched a man suspend his son over the tracks and followed the stream to the rails below. Yep, there was shit on…

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Make your own passport or visa photos

Before we left to travel, Her and I used a Photoshop template to create our own photos for our Indian visa applications.  CVS wanted to charge us $9.99 each for two passport photos, and although they would have done all the work, I am a real cheapskate and was sure I could find a way…

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“It’s tobacco spit…”

“Hello!  Where are you from?” a stranger asked us as he kept up with our rather brisk stride. We were walking from our hotel in Paharganj to the New Delhi train station, just about half a mile away.  Through our online research, we had discovered there’s an international tourist ticketing office in the New Delhi…

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10 aspects of traveling to India that may surprise you

So you’re headed to India! (You hardcore traveler, you!) There is very little a traveler can read, see or hear to adequately prepare for a visit to this vast, colorful country. One must simply go and experience it. But to provide a hint of the vast wonders and frustrations in store for you, here are…

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Arriving in India

Though I expected to be shocked by the craziness of India, I felt the previous two months we spent backpacking in Southeast Asia had prepared me to handle whatever the subcontinent could throw at me.  As it turned out, I was just a rookie world traveler, and India had a few difficult lessons to teach…

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