All posts tagged: India

Let’s talk about the need for toilets in India.

Have you had the toilet conversation yet? If you’re traveling or living in India it’s bound to happen. Here you’re totally allowed to talk about what goes on in the loo. Everyone feels the need at some point. How does that water spray thingy on the side work? Is it really better to squat than to sit down? No toilet paper, really? The Indian loo raises a lot of questions for foreigners, but since a few years toilets have become a topic for Indians too. Or rather, not having a toilet has finally become a topic. Over 600 million Indians are forced to defecate out in the open, because they don’t have a toilet in their house. Public toilets are few and the ones that are there are often poorly maintained. Slum dwellers prefer to find a spot in the bushes or along side the railway tracks. Recently I was invited to spend a day with Dr. Pathak of the Sulabh Foundation. His foundation has been the leading force, for many years, behind bringing toilets …

Love and sex in Khajuraho

  Drawn by the promise of explicit sex scenes carved from sand stone, millions of tourists come to Khajuraho every year. The temples of Khajaraho weren’t discovered until the British ruled the country and an English man was sent out to map India’s most central state; Madhya Pradesh. Thanks to T S Burt’s discovery in 1838, shopkeepers, restaurant owners and rickshaw drivers today can make a living from the hordes of tourists that come to this otherwise sleepy town. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for this proper English gentleman to uncover the carvings from thick jungle branches. Did they make him blush? For even the most liberal thinkers some scenes are quite shocking. Even the little book that I picked up for 60 rupees at the entree seems to struggle with promoting the monument. Out of all the pictures of the temple in the book, not one of them shows a couple having sex. Though there are many on the temples and all the tourist try their best to located …

Sheroes Cafe in Agra – a place for survivors instead of victims

  In a previous post I’ve talked about the amazing Nur Jahan being the real queen of Agra. Visiting her father’s tomb is something you should definitely do when you’re in the city. But Agra recently got another reason you should hang around a little longer. While you’re busy sightseeing, make some time to have lunch at Sheroes Café. When I was there around the beginning of December Sheroes Café was just about to officially open it’s doors. As a ‘soft launch’ the café had been open for about a month already to see if the concept would have potential for success. The food isn’t the main reason why you want to make a stop here. The Sheroes café is set up by an organisation called Stop Acid Attacks Now and is run by female survivors of acid attacks. In India about four women are attacked every week with a product that burns through the skin within seconds. Leaving them scared for life, if they survive the attack at all. SAAN expects that the real …

Bhopal beyond the disaster a developing tourist destination

Before coming to Bhopal I couldn’t think of a good reason for a tourist to put this destination on the list. It’s the city of lakes yes, but these two man-made ‘pools’ are hardly natural wonders to make a detour for. But after having spent two weeks there to cover the 30-year anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, I find myself seriously considering going back in the near future. Just to be a tourist this time and not work. For most people Bhopal will always be connected to the gas disaster of December 3th 1984. It’s true that the disaster has left deep marks on the city and continuously effects the people that live there. If you do decided to visit the city, I would say you owe it to the victims to show interest in this side of its history too. Bhopal gas disaster museum. Getting a look into what really happened that night and the many years that followed has become easier since a few days. The Bhopal Holocaust museum was opened on the …

The women-only travel industry works for India, but lets not copy it

New York is getting its first women-only taxi service this week. Female customers can now use an app to hire a taxi driven by a female. In New York City the taxis are called SheRides in other cities they use the name SheTaxi. Their drivers will have – very original – pink pashminas. In India we’re familiar with the women-only travel concept. We have female only taxis, separate ladies compartments on trains and the metro. On government busses the first rows of seats are reserved for women. For me it works well, I find traveling this way comfortable. Because we have more men out on the streets in India the general sections on the trains are extremely over crowed almost every hour of the day. For me choosing to ride in the women’s compartment isn’t always about being scared to get groped by a guy, but more about making sure that I get a seat. But I often wonder if always traveling in women’s compartments has made me more apprehensive of interacting with men when …