An ant outside our guesthouse room on Havelock Island, India

Observations From Small Indian Islands and Big Indian Cities

  • During one day of scuba diving we swam through seas of jellyfish. No joke, hundreds of them at the surface. The craziest part was coming up from below and seeing a wall of pink ahead of us and knowing that we had to swim through it to get back onto the boat…and that it would be waiting for us the next time we went in.
  • A thali for sale at the World Class Restaurant on Havelock Island, India
    A thali for sale at the World Class Restaurant on Havelock Island, India

    I am so so so so so so so sick of itching! If it were up to me, mosquitoes would be wiped off the face of the earth. I don’t care what it does to the circle of life!

  • A boat mechanic on our ferry ride to Havelock Island showed Carrie some moves on her new drum.
  • The mosquitoes were so bad on Havelock Island, India, that every day just after sunset Carrie and I would spend a few hours watching movies in bed under a mosquito net and not socializing with our fun neighbors, just to avoid getting mauled.
  • Everyone on Havelock wore Andaman Island tee shirts, which were sold in the marketplace for $1 and are made of some of the cheapest fabric ever.
  • It’s terrifying to sit in the front of a bus and watch how many near accidents it has on an average journey.
  • When cars pass other cars in the right lane, they come at your vehicle head on and often don’t get back into their lane until the last possible second.
  • We were on a 2.5 hour bus ride from Sadhana Forest to Chennai where the horn was pretty much used the entire time.
  • Our hotel on Havelock Island, India, was very dangerous, as it was filled with coconuts falling from the trees above. One of those things hits your head, it’s lights out! At least we had the warning sound of a snap then leaves rustling. A few seconds later, THUD!
  • On that same ride, one man who spoke English was asking Carrie and I all sorts of questions and then relaying the answers to everyone else around in Hindi. This meant that everyone on the bus knew all about the Americans traveling who really like India and are sad to be leaving and have been there for three months…etc.
  • Pelican Guesthouse Havelock Island India
    Pelican Guest House, our home for a week was surrounded by dangerous coconut trees

    I spent 20 minutes or so on a bus ride with a bag of watermelons resting on my feet and my knee being used as a seat.

  • We found a great natural suntan lotion whose main ingredients are ficus, licorice, aloe, indica, sandalwood, carrots and wheatgerm. Sounds crazy but it works.
  • Despite the amount of English spoken in India, I find it quite tough to understand with the thick accent.
  • Due to the fact that many of the men from the ships in the beach area stay for days or weeks at a time, it took Carrie and I nearly two hours of wandering and looking hard before we found a hotel room in our budget.
  • Burka store Chennai
    The white manequin selling burkas at the burka store across the street from our Chennai hotel

    When we finally found a hotel in Chennai, it was in the Muslim area. We were across the street from three different burka stores.

  • The most frequently stereotyped Indian expression in the USA is “thank you, come again.” In three months in India we have shopped at countless stores and never heard it once.
  • Affection is never shown in public in India. Even holding hands is not done, which is sometimes tough for Carrie and I to remember.
  • Room for rent signs say To Let, which when I quickly walk by looks a lot like toilet.
  • As I have mentioned, most double beds in Indian guesthouses are just two singles pushed together. When there is a real double bed and I don’t spend my nights falling into a hard crevasse between two mattresses, it’s very exciting.
  • Our boat ride back from Havelock Island, India, was filled with roaches, one of which even crawled on Carrie.
  • Not sure if I mentioned this before, but for men, all of India is a urinal. This is both very handy and very disgusting, as people urinate everywhere and it often is quite smelly…but I also can pee anywhere!
  • We had no rain for three months, then it rained three times in a week..
  • Indian coffee
    It’s tough to hold a scalding cup of coffee in a paper cup

    Someone said this and I love it. “Travelers are born to travel. They can’t fight it no matter how hard they try. So why try.”

  • In Havelock, I had ants crawling all over my laptop. I hope none of those suckers are still in there.
  • I was told i have hands like a woman’s by a woman in a glasses store in Chennai.
  • All of the paper money in India has scenes of the countryside and of monuments except for the 1,000 rupee note, which has images of computers and industry. This is telling, as a large percentage of people will never have a 1,000 rupee bill.
  • We rarely see police cars and every time we do, it still shocks us.
  • There are just about no plastic or paper cups anywhere. When you buy fresh juice, coffee or tea on the street it comes in a glass or ceramic cup that you drink and hand back. Unless the beverage is scalding hot, “to go” drinks come in plastic bags.
  • Many streets have no sidewalks so pedestrians are forced to walk on the side of traffic. As such, it is a constant game of dodging cars and other people with varying degrees of success.
  • Stray dogs, especially on islands, tend to pick a human and stick with them for that person’s stay in the area. We had one in Hampi, Goa and on Havelock.
  • While waiting to get our ticket to Sri Lanka, Carrie and I stayed in the beach area, which actually was a shipping hub. As such, there were no other tourists around and we feasted on cheap local food.
Misspelled laundry sign
Years later, I still think about this sign on Havelock Island and chuckle