I had few preconceived notions about India when I decided to make it part of my travels. My exposure to things Indian was slim: I knew I liked the food, I dabbled in Indian music and dance, and I saw the movies Ghandi and A Passage to India. And, having lived in Boulder, I knew those who made their pilgrimage to India for health, spiritual, and artistic pursuits. Not much to go on. Even with this limited exposure, or perhaps because of it, India was exotic to me, if only for the reason that I really knew nothing about it.

Which left me to make some basic assumptions about life here. I assumed my travels through Egypt and Morocco would be the "warm-up" act, that the things we found challenging in those countries would be exaggerated in India. Egypt was hard, but I had grown accustomed to it -- India, I thought, most surely would be the most difficult of third-world countries.

My most common mantra when I first arrived was: "if someone were coming from the U.S. directly, they would find _________ (fill in the blank) horrifying. But, after travelling in North Africa, India is much easier to handle." Well, I've softened up on that view after travelling throughout India for over three months. There's a delicate and precarious balance to all things here, and as you may suspect, some parts of India were simply delightful and some were truly gruesome.

Nepal -- ahhh, it makes my heart sing. What you really need to do is go to the bookstore and find a "coffee table" picture book on the country, as pictures will express the area much better than I ever could through written word. As with India, the only thing that sprang to mind (pre-trip) when I thought of Nepal was Mt. Everest and the Himalayas. And as you may know or imagine, there's much, much more: wildlife, history, architecture, art, music and shopping! Fortunately, the Nepali people have provided a wonderful environment for travelers, and our time there became a sweet hiatus from our adventures in India.

I'll try my best to describe the people/places/things of India and Nepal I've found to be interesting.

You see, there's -- how shall I say? -- a demon inside us
driving us to talk. We walk about under a
load of memories which we love to share
and somehow never can.
It's the price we pay for coming to this country.

-- George Orwell, Burmese Days