Category Archives: Cultural Travel

Cultures of India- An Introduction

India is sort of an overwhelming assignment, but guest blogger Laura Rutgers is willing to give it a try. To find flights to India use our Vagobond Flight Tool and for the best deals on hotels, try our India Hotel Search Engine

India has always been a captivating destination for travelers from all over the world. The enticing unity of Indians reflects a diversity of religions, cultures, customs and languages. This diversity itself is the pride of the nation. The living styles of people, their clothing, thoughts, food and culture, everything has imprints of this diversity. So much so that all together they seem to be a part of an inseparable unit. A traveler can feel this inherent character of Indian culture by simply passing across these streets for its diverse heritage.

Bollywood IndiaIndia possesses one of the oldest civilizations and richest cultural heritages on the planet. It has experienced a multifaceted socio-economic development in the last 61 years after getting its freedom from Britain.

Today, the country has become self-sufficient in agriculture and is now the tenth most industrialized nation in the world. A unique geographical position has given India a chance to develop a unique culture of the Indian subcontinent and this uniqueness is a big ‘pull’ factor for travelers from different countries who visit this amazing country.

culture of IndiaThis cultural uniqueness has become a type of magic attraction for curious travelers visiting India every year. The people and their peculiar lifestyles, their folk dances and music, art & handicrafts. All of these have epitomized the nationality of the country. Be it a festive occasion or a moment of grief, Indians participate in every occasion with an open heart.

Wonderous IndiaPeople wonder how a rural Indian calls any stranger as brother with such an ease. Following the philosophy of “the whole world is our family” an Indian welcomes any guest and offers the best of his hospitality to the person coming to his door. These characteristics surprise anyone who is coming from a distinct culture.

The diversity of India in terms of languages, religion, ethnic origin and geography has led to the development of this distinct cultural structure that has enveloped all differences in a common identity and from Kanyakumari, the outhermost part of India to the peaks of the Himalayas, the country shows a bondedness that is rare in any nation today.

Eyewitness Travel Guide for India
Lonely Planet India
Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India
Culture Shock India
A Girl’s Guide to India
India the Culture

India, is known as the land of surprises, and that is why it is one of the most fascinating tourist countries in the world. Most surprisingly the country has preserved its historical uniqueness and regional differences in language, religion, ethos, customs, traditions, food and even costumes.. Its glorious forts, temples, mosques and churches; tasty foods, colorful and vibrant festivals, all are yet intact with the common lives of people. Travelers get surprised to see strangers pouring colors on each other in the Holi festival and nobody taking that otherwise.

Dancer in IndiaMost famous cultural destinations of India that are reputed for their cultural and architectural uniqueness are Rajasthan’s palaces, Tajmahal in Agra, and Delhi the capital of India, which embraces culture, ancient glory and architectural riches altogether.

But if someone is searching for the cultural uniqueness, the best place to visit is Banaras or Allahabad, where thousands of people take baths in the holy water of the Ganges and meditate and pray for the freedom of their souls.

The search for the end of desires ends here, where people of any religion, any country, or culture live together, die together, and worship their different idols in their own unique ways with a common notion of getting freedom from the circle of birth and death.

This is India and it is magical.

Laura Rutgers is a dancer and photographer who lives in Palm Beach, Florida, USA. She has take a journey to India and plans to take many more.

What do those with Anthropology Degrees Do?

A degree in Anthropology is interesting…but as this short excerpt from an article in the Guardian shows…most anthro grads do what they might have done with no degree

Of the anthropology graduates who left university in 2008, 51% were in employment after six months in a diverse range of careers such as advertising and sales (8%), business and finance (6%) and public or private sector management (12%). However, a large number were working in catering (15%) or in clerical roles (20%).

Anthropology graduates also commonly pursue careers in the civil service, conservation and heritage management. “Working for charities and museums, or lecturing, would also be potential options,” adds Holbrough.

Don’t forget about Teaching English in foreign countries, since nearly a third of all the foreign teachers I’ve met thus far hold degrees in Anthro. Of course, teaching is actually great field work since you have to encourage students (subjects) to speak and the easiest thing to get them to talk about is their culture.

Sadly though, this opportunity is no longer what it once was because of the rise of “Voluntourism” in which retired baby boomers are paying hefty fees to go to foreign countries and teach English and because the shriveling of the global jobs market has created an excess of graduates (of all degrees) with no opportunities for a career at home who see teaching English as a foreign language as a means to travel and see the world (which it is).

The result? The average salary for TEFL teachers has dropped nearly 50% over the past four years while the cost of living in most host countries has risen at the same time. In addition, the glut of candidates has made it increasingly difficult to find positions with reputable schools thus leading to situations like the one we recently encountered.

What can you do with an anthropology degree? Well, you can do what I’m about to do. Take a long walk in Izmir and enjoy a sunny day – even if the coal smog is a little bit bothersome. On my walk, I will probably think about money, observe some Turkish culture, and weigh my options- among them – paying for that very interesting degree in Anthropology. :)

Istanbul in Winter – Part 1- European Side

Istanbul just before Christmas was great Despite having to see my wife go to the airport and wondering if life was going to continue in Turkey for us. World travel, world life. This is it.

The first few days were composed of some rather intense web work and some long walks through Taksim, Sultanahmet, and Beyoglu. I’m lucky in that while I love seeing beautiful sites, I also love just wandering around and people watching. Istanbul TaksimTo me, walking in a city and watching the daily life of the inhabitants is better than going on a tour.

Dolmahbahce BosphorusOf course, it was a pleasure to wander the winding streets around the Galata tower and Galata Mevlevihanesi or to stroll down the waterside around the Dolmabahce Palace. Going up or inside didn’t interest me so much, I can find those pictures on the internet, but walking along the incredibly uncrowded streets of Besiktas and Ortakoy allowed me to really feel what Istanbul is like in winter. I can tell you, it’s pleasant.

Istikal Caddessi in IstanbulI stopped for coffee at a Starbucks in Taksim Square and as I have admitted before, living abroad has made me a fan of this coffee-house killing chain. In particular living in Manisa where a bad cup of coffee is the only option and it costs as much as a great one, made this particular stop a highlight of my days. Sitting and watching holiday shoppers, Chinese tourists, and the predatory young guys looking for love or money from female tourists occupied me for nearly two hours while I sipped a plain, black coffee.

Taksim, Galata, IstanbulWalking down Istikal Caddessi I was charmed to see a bright tram parting the sea of the crowd as they flowed towards Galata or the Cumhuriyet Monument with visions of credit cards in their eyes. Reaching the Galata Tower, I actually considered paying the 10 lira to climb the steps and look at the view, but then realized that watching the homeless guys drinking beer with their dogs in the park at the base of the tower was free and far more interesting than looking out from the Genoese Tower which was built in 1348. Later, I was told that the same view from the tower can be had from the Anemon Hotel next door for a total cost of zero.

Galatasaray graffitiWhat I missed that I hadn’t was a visit to Istanbul Modern which is reputed to be one of the best galleries in all of Turkey. I was too preoccupied watching the crowds and looking at the odd huligan grafiti that was on nearly every building. Galatasaray? Maybe. A future post on Turkish Soccer is certainly worth considering.

A walk across the Galata Bridge and back to my hotel, the Aya Sofia for more writing and fire solving on the computer. The next day strolls Istanbul in Winterthrough Gulhane Park and the outskirts of the Grand Bazaar plus some quality time spent eating great chorba and having good conversations with friends old and new at the Aya Sofia.

I was very pleased to meet a New Zealand couple (okay, she was really Argentine) who have spent the past two years living on a sailboat and cruising the Atlantic and Med. That’s a life I aspire to.

Of course, this is really my life. Walking and watching. It’s not an exciting party or a huge amount of distance. My travels are not really news-worthy, but they are interesting.