The India Trip: A retrospective written by Xandro Rinaldi, 4th Form
Traveling to India was a truly eye-opening and life-changing experience. Throughout our journey around the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur) we experienced a unique blend of culture, religion, language and cuisine (curry for every single meal of the trip including breakfast) which was unlike anywhere else we have ever travelled before. During our travels, we visited many different landmarks including the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, countless Muslim and Sikh temples, and of course the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Between each of these major locations that we visited, we embarked on long, commentary filled bus rides hosted by our one and only tour guide Vikas, who provided us with historical and cultural facts on India all while showing us some true Indian banter. One of the favorite landmarks of the trip was visiting The Red Fort in Delhi, Built with red sandstone in 1638 by the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan.
Something which caught my interest immediately was the vast market culture in this region where the merchants and salesmen would constantly, and sometimes over eagerly, approach us to visit their shops. This initial interaction would follow with a great deal of haggling in which many of us received deep discounts and bargains for extensively negotiating with the shop owners on goods such as traditional clothing, scarves, and trinkets. This was a very valuable skill which we learned to utilise to great effect throughout the 11 days we were in India. One of the highlights of the journey included a visit to the Sloth Bear sanctuary in Agra; here our group donated a sizeable sum of money in benefit of over 200 sloth bears that were rescued from the cruel and illegal practice of “bear dancing”. Another moment to remember was a 90-minute bike ride through the desert alongside camels, beggars, and villagers that we endured on twisted, busted and rusted piles of scrap metal which inflicted upon me “the world’s worst ever bicycle induced sore bum”. I received an unofficial award for this most inauspicious achievement.
On this awesomely incredible adventure through India, we were all privileged to experience first-hand, this interesting and dynamic culture which dates back to the beginning of human civilization. From the exact point we touched down in Delhi; the sights, sounds, and various smells overwhelmed all of our senses. Everything in this place was alive as the surrounding environment perpetually screeches, pulses, buzzes, honks, blares, barks. The monkeys are out to get you and they throw their own faeces but they are actually far safer than the countless numbers of feral cats, stray dogs, and the questionable street food stands. The weather was insufferably hot and humid. And through all of this chaos, our shared experiences ultimately brought our entire group of pupils and teachers much closer together as a team. We learned more and experienced more together in our 11 days in India than we could possibly hope to in an entire year in the classroom and we created strong bonds and friendships along the way.
We are beyond thankful for the opportunity to take part in this trip and we would like to thank Mrs. Harris Jones, Mrs. Condy, Mrs. Thorpe, Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Campbell in particular for organising this once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us. We would also like to thank our brilliant tour guide Vikas for taking us around the Golden Triangle and for providing nonstop information and entertainment for 11 days. This trip was truly amazing, and we will remember it for the rest of our lives.
Quotes from other pupils on the trip:
As soon as we returned, I wanted to go back there. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
It was so amazing…like on another level. We all grew closer while we explored a whole new world.
Even though we had curry for every meal, the state of my tummy was always changing…