In the second part of our three-series conversation with Joseph Davies, he shares with us his experience backpacking in India for five weeks. In this article, Joseph talks about his favourite region in India. If you missed the first article, catch up here. If you want to read more about Joseph's adventures in India, click here.
Joseph Davies, 25
Copywriter at Kinetic Singapore
Interviewed by Melissa Chia
“I knew that it was not going to be easy to get around and I knew that there was going to be a certain level of surprise because India is a society that is not as structured…”
Having been to India previously in secondary school, did you still experience any culture shock when you revisited the country?
I was quite aware of what to expect, but at the same time it was a new experience.
What were you expecting then?
I knew that it was not going to be easy to get around and I knew that there was going to be a certain level of surprise because India is a society that is not as structured. The processes in India are not like Singapore, where everything is smooth. There might be a bit of corruption here and there.
Did you already experience all these during your trip with your father?
Having been to India before, did your parents have much to say about you deciding to go to India for your graduation trip?
They were quite supportive, especially my father. He thinks that India is a good place to travel and learn about people, in general.
How did you fund your travel?
I funded the trip through my savings, and my dad matched my budget dollar-to-dollar. I think I came up with about $700 and he passed me another $700.
You spent $1400 for a five-week trip in India?
Yes, including accommodation.
Did you do any preparation for the trip?
I went with my friends to buy travelling gears, like backpacks and some other essentials. And of course, we did a lot of research.
Having been to many regions in India, which is your favourite region?
My favourite is this place called Rajasthan, which is a desert state. It is like something out of Aladdin.
What did you like about Rajasthan?
I like that there were a lot of things you will not see or dream of, like camels in the desert and the sunset. I took a camel tour by myself. I rode a camel for four days in a desert with only a guide and a cook and it was quite a good experience.
How does the camel tour work?
The camel tour group consists of three camels, so I can either ride on one of the camel or they can pull me along in a caravan.
Were there any interesting experiences in the other parts of India?
I remember thinking that Kochi was a lot like Malacca because it had a lot of Catholic influences. The only place that I have been to that was like that was Malacca and I thought that this (Kochi) was a good place to ease into to prevent the culture shock.
So is Kochi very different from the other parts of India?
Yes. In fact, Kochi has the highest literacy rate in India so it was a very good area to ease into the culture because you would not have that much of a culture shock.
Was it easy to get around Kochi?
Yes, because the people there could speak English. The people are well-educated.
Did you get to interact with the locals?
Yes, a lot. Everyday.
What can you tell us about India and her people?
I think they are one of the friendliest people you will ever meet because they are genuinely helpful, talkative and curious. I think a lot of people would agree that Indians are very curious in a very innocent way. When you share about your homeland and other stories they will ask to find out more. I think they are very good conversationalists.
Do they usually initiate conversations?
Yes, they will come up to you and sometimes even when you do not feel like talking you will still talk to them because they are very enthusiastic and friendly.
How similar are the cultures of Singapore and India?
[It is] Very different. I think Indians tend to be more in tune with life and living, enjoying the little things so to speak. Maybe Singaporeans are more focused on career and money. Even though I saw a lot of poor people in India, they seem a lot happier than a lot of Singaporeans.
Do you foresee any difficulties in living in India?
If I were to stay there, I would need some kind of employment maybe and perhaps that will be something that will be lacking for me because of the difference in the work culture. Working in India is a completely different ball game altogether. I might not be able to gel into their industries. I think that Indians have a very unique way of doing business, which a lot of people may find it hard to integrate into.
The way they do business is very political and they run on a lot of contacts, like families and friends. I think they value that A LOT more than Singaporeans.
So, it is something you have to get used to if you want to work in India?
Yes, yes. And it may be very difficult because I am foreigner.
[Stay tuned to read the last part of our conversation with Joseph as he provides tips on how to get the best out of your time in India.]