Stu Cook recounts his recent trip to India and shares the reasons why India is a great destination for the rainbow community.
I like to think I dreamed a new dream; the colours and smells, the vibrancy and the happiness, the poverty and the gilded palaces. India, so beautiful, so harsh, so lively and yet peaceful.
My partner, James, and I have spent many years travelling to many wonderful countries around the world. I think given half a chance we would pack up everything and just spend our days travelling. During 2015 we had the privilege of visiting India, a trip of a lifetime some might say. It certainly opened our eyes to somewhere incredible.
From the moment we stepped off the plane in Delhi you are met with a wall of noise, people and smells. They are a culture willing to please, however, as with any country you need to be aware of everything, all the time.
We spent our first few days in and around Delhi visiting the gardens of Ghandi and local markets as well as the Imperial Hotel for a well earned gin and tonic. It’s a unique city that will both scare and amaze you. The traffic seems chaotic, and yet you get where you need to be more easily than in Auckland.
No trip to a city like Delhi would be complete without a perv on Grindr to see who’s around. Be prepared for an inundation of messages, whoever you are. They are forward and eager, we are reserved and coy; looking was more than enough for us.
We ventured through Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Red Fort as well as Jaipur to see the Amber Fort and Taj Rambagh Palace, each with its unique people and feeling. We had no issue with the rooms where we stayed and no feeling that our lifestyle was frowned upon, however, India is still a conservative country and being respectful of their traditions and culture will go a long way.
The further we ventured from the bright lights of the bigger cities the more traditional the values seemed to be and the more reserved approach we took.
Grindr in these areas, when there was mobile signal, was also a lot sparser, a little like being in rural NZ, with the closest person being 50km away. We spoke to some awesome people via the app and had many offers to be shown around the various places. For the more adventurous I am sure there are many wondrous sights to be seen.
After a brief visit to the Samode Palace in the Rajasthan Provence, we headed back to Delhi. Even in the country the sounds and smells are everywhere. The horns of the cars, buses and trucks mingle with the shouting as we enter the city once more, and as we leave India the following day the plane seems eerily quiet by comparison.
India really does offer something for everyone, from gay to straight, single to ‘it’s complicated’, from the Grindr & Scruff user to the Hornet and Prowlr user, those who want to backpack and get amongst the locals, to those who want to go five-star all the way in air-conditioned coaches and luxury hotels. Either way you will leave India feeling different – love it or otherwise – your life will be enriched for the experience.
Will we go back? Absolutely! We fell in love with the people, we fell in love with the culture, we fell in love… with India.
Article | Stu Cook