More than the 8th Wonder of the World


Taj Majal

I had some clue of what to expect going to a third world country such as India. I have been exposed to the culture, here in the states, for most of my life working with the hospitality industry. Needless to say, I was still in shock and in awe. One cannot really prepare themselves the way I thought I did by just absorbing information from people who have lived there. I saw a Hindu funeral, explored the vegetable markets, rode the streets on the back of a motorcycle, visited Temples, shopped, relaxed on front porch swings all day, visited a beautiful farm in the country, ate great, authentic Indian Food as well as food I don’t wish to eat again, saw poverty as I never seen before and met people who I consider as my new extended family that I will keep in touch with always. 

Hill Society Family

  I was so ready to get there by the time I had flown over19 hours and gone through umpteen time zones. I didn’t realize that I still had a 6 hour car ride to go from Mumbai. We arrived to the Hill Society in Navasari, at the home of Harshad and Roshni Patel, at about 6:00 am on December 17th. For the record, I flew out of Dallas on December 15th. It took a few days to adjust to the extreme jet lag but it took even longer to adjust to my new surroundings. The Hill society is quiet, peaceful and all of the homes are open to all of the families that live there. It is actually pretty amazing when you see the family bond between everyone. I felt at home with them immediately. We ventured into Navasari, which is a fairly large city.  A city filled with pollution, dust, slum areas, motor bikes, rickshaws and people everywhere. Did I mention there are no traffic lights, stop signs or driving laws? There are also restaurants, parks, schools and a wide variety of food vendors lining up and down the roads. The food on the side of the road is supposed to be the best and it was.  I was fortunate enough to stay with friends who told me what was okay to eat and where it was ok to eat from.

Although I did get sick at the end of the trip, it was well worth it. On our way to Dheli and Agra, I was able to visit Hindu Temples and Muslim Mosques in numerous cities such as, Ambaji, Ajmer and Boroda (which is where I saw the first traffic stop light of the whole trip). We visited the Swaminarayan Akshradam in Dheli. This Temple should have made the Wonders of the World list with the Taj Majal. It was fascinating.  After a very long journey via van of six people, we reached the Taj Majal in Agra. It was as breathtaking as I imagined even on the rainy, foggy day that we arrived. A ride on a camel cart up to the entrance made it sink in that I was definitely across the world. Speaking of animals, they are everywhere: Cows, bulls, goats, hogs, wild dogs and even an elephant crossing the road.  One village was filled with monkeys mingling with all of the people and of course trying to take everyone’s hats, glasses or loose articles. That was definitely a different feeling than waving at them in a cage at the zoo, but they were very friendly.  

 I spent most of my time in Navasari, Bardoli, Saroli and the surrounding

Vanita and Dheval just before wedding ceremony

 Surat area. The wedding in Bardoli was fascinating and much longer than what we are used to in the states (3 full days of events). 

 I was so lucky to be a part of the whole thing. There are many significant ceremonies in a traditional Indian wedding event and you can see how important the merging of the two families is. Almost everyone in the immediate family has a role in the wedding.   As I reflect on my trip I realize that it was one of the greatest experiences I could have had and I feel fortunate that I can strike a few things off of my “bucket list” from this trip. Despite the dysentery, crowds, dirt, the low level of infrastructure and the stress of adjusting to the different way of life, India is one of the most interesting places I have ever been and the Indian people are the most humble, hospitable, giving people that I have ever been around. I learned a lot about my spirituality, my faith and myself on this trip. I came back to the states with a broader view on the world, a more thankful attitude, a different view of my life and an extended family as wonderful as my own.

More Photos…

Henna applicationPreparing for the ceremony
Preparing for the ceremony
Reception area for wedding feast
Celebration before the wedding
During the wedding ceremony

12 thoughts on “More than the 8th Wonder of the World

  1. What a wonderful opportunity to experience another culture; one that is so colorful as evidenced in the beautiful wedding attire. I also am intrigued by the Henna application and am tempted to try that out since it is temporary. Kudos to you for expanding your horizons

  2. Thank you Jennifer for seeing a great country and great culture beyond the shadow of dirt and poverty. There is much more to see and experience in India then just Taj Mahal and slumdog millionaire….Love the post!!!!

  3. I disover new talents in my daughter daily. One of them was all the things she wrote about this trip and how she expressed her love for the people of India. I am proud that we have the opportunity in our business to work with several thousand Indians. It has been our honor and our pleasure.

  4. Jen,
    I’m so proud for you. This trip was a once in a lifetime, thought provoking, eye opening experience for you. As with all things you do, your desire to “do it well, do it big” shines in this blog. What a great experience to share. Thank you for daring to be yourself and showing others what it’s like to “step out of the box”.

  5. Jennifer. How very, very thought provoking. It was wonderful of you to find a way to share your experience. Thank you for including me. You’ll always have memories (and hopefully an album full of pictures). Lois

  6. Jennifer,
    Thank you for posting these pictures and your thoughts. Very interesting! I would’ve liked to been in your shoes—looks like a wonderful experience!

  7. Hi Jenn,

    Even though you shared with us the photos and videos of your “fantastic voyage” when you returned, it is your words here that truly brought them to life. I admire your sense of adventure, and your willingness to “jump in with both feet”, but most of all, I admire the respect that you have shown for a wonderful culture and a magnificent people. If only more people would try to see the world the way that you do!

  8. Jennifer- What wonderful photos, you are so lucky to have gotten to experience this!

  9. Hello Jennifer

    It was great seeing you again. Congratulations!!! It appears that you had a fascinating trip. Thank you for sharing this awesome experience with us. There is so much to learn from the other cultures around the world.

  10. Hey Jennifer.

    hi jennifer mom.I still remeber the night i saw you, mike and me were trying to pull your legs hehe.whenever you go back to India, try to go southern part to india and in Mumbai

  11. Wonderful website below! As well your website quite a lot upwards rapidly! Just what exactly number are you currently the usage of? Can one get your affiliate marketing link in your sponsor? I want my website jam-packed up as rapidly when your own hehe

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