We asked Paula Harrigan about life as a tour leader in India and what she makes of India’s people, cuisine and culture.
1. In India I love.
The incredible sights we see on the road – elephants, camels, tuk-tuks, holy men, colourful saris, decorated trucks & so much more. You need your camera at the ready at all times! The friendliness of the local people. Their genuine delight in showing off their country and their friendliness is something that never ceases to amaze me.
2. My favourite Indian dish(es).
Are the sweets. Little squares of milky, nutty joy that are the perfect antidote to the spicy curries. The lovely fish & coconut curries of Kerala shouldn't be missed either.
3. My favourite Indian drink(s).
Is the steaming cups of sweet chai (tea) offered everywhere we go.
A Tiger at Ranthambore National Park
4. Most amusing India encounter.
Celebrating the Holi festival with the local villagers in Rajasthan. This is the festival of colour with everyone throwing around coloured powder to celebrate the arrival of Spring. My group decided to join in the fun in the small village we were staying in & the locals loved it. By the end of the day we were all covered in pink, purple, green and orange powder and looking like there had been an explosion at the paint factory!
5. My most memorable Indian encounter.
Was the first time I saw a tiger in Ranthambore National Park. We had been driving for some time & had heard the alarm calls from the monkeys but could not see the tiger. Then out of the bushes padded this enormous female tiger. She moved so gracefully through the grass and you could see she was very powerful. In the golden morning light she looked amazing & she didn’t even notice we were there. After she loped off, I burst into tears from the amazing encounter. Every time I see tiger now, I still feel the emotion of looking at something so beautiful.
6. Favourite time of the year to travel In India.
Generally speaking the best months to travel are between November and March. However, December or January are my two favourite months. The nights are cool & the days not too hot.
7. Favourite time of day in India.
The early mornings. Great when you are on a game drive and the only time the cities have some serenity.
Scenes of India
8. Favourite Indian train journey is.
The small train that runs through the Aravali hills near the rural town of Jojawar. It travels through amazing scenery & slows down to allow locals & travellers to feed the local troop of Langur monkeys. But all train journeys in India are great with the bustling stations, porters laden with goods and fellow travellers all wanting to share stories & food. An Indian train journey is a must!
9. And finally, when in India be prepared for.
An amazing adventure. Every day seems to offer something new & exciting. Even after travelling there for a few years now, I still see and learn something new on each trip.