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BY AARTI BAJAJ

CEO, Wild Dreamer Productions

Culture & Colour: 10 Tips for Travelling to India

Aarti Bajaj has advice to improve your visit to a country like no other. The international stage-production: MEERA will be performing at ASB Waterfront Theatre this May, bringing together cultures, colours and confluences never seen before. Learn more about this rich culture from Aarti…

1. India is a complete world in itself

Indians refer to India as Mother India — “our motherland”. In order to understand and experience India in its entirety one needs to go with a free heart, soul and mind. A body that is free of all prejudice and ideas. It’s a country of diversity, culture, colour and beliefs.

2. Indian food is not for the faint hearted

Neither is it for the taste buds who like to play in safer zones. The combination of flavours, spices and aromas is something that will nourish you and excite your taste buds, leaving an ever-lasting memory. India has 29 states and seven union territories, with something completely different wherever you go. It certainly has more than vindaloo and butter chicken to offer.

3. Experience contemporary fashion with a royal touch

From raw silk to the softest silks and pashminas, cotton, linen to georgettes, crepe to chiffon . . . You name a fabric and you will find in India. It doesn’t just offer boring fashion; it offers fashion which is bold, colourful, has a story behind it and above all surely promises to stand out amongst all. You will also find diamonds, gold jewellery and precious stones — this is the land of maharajas and royals after all.

Aarti Bajaj presenting at the MEERA Launch Event, Auckland

4. Every art form in India tells a story

India has eight different classical dance forms, multiple classical music and singing forms and various folk dancing and singing styles, with a history so extensive that they become an entire subject in itself. Each gets carefully crafted with meaningful costumes, jewellery, makeup and many more embellishments.

listen to the stories of our wild dreamers...

MEERAcast, Wild Dreamer Productions’ very own podcast, dives deep into the stories of our most passionate Wild Dreamers. With over 15 episodes, you can hear about everybody from the performing cast in our upcoming shows, the production team working to bring the shows to life and all the creative professionals in between!

5. Indians take a lot of pride in their culture

And why shouldn’t they? It’s the culture that gives us our unique identity. And Indian culture and civilisation has a history centuries long. If you want to immerse in the colour, festivities and all the fun stories that go with it, India is a must.

6. Travel by rail

One needs to experience Indian railways and travel in Indian trains to get the real taste of the country.

6. Visit heritage buildings

Be it Taj Mahal or Ajanta Elora caves, Qutub Minar or Mehrangarh Fort, every state in India has its heritage buildings and monuments that narrate the stories of centuries in the most elaborative, artistic fashion.

7. Eat street food

How to choose the best street-food places to eat, to avoid “Delhi belly”? Always eat at the place that is really busy, eat freshly cooked food. Oh, and don’t drink tap water.

9. Visit Mumbai to experience Bollywood

The biggest movie producing hub in the world is Bollywood and, to experience it, visit Mumbai (Bombay). Mumbai can be best described as an organised chaos. Everyone is constantly moving. It’s a city that never sleeps. If India is a complete world in itself then Mumbai is a complete different world in India.

10. See both sides of the story...

Visit India’s largest slum, “Dharavi”, as well as some of the most expensive, state of art architecture and buildings. India is a living example that shows how people from different walks of life, cultures, social statures, values, religions, and beliefs come together each day and make things happen. Whether they have little or more, they make life happen.

Aarti Bajaj created and stars in Meera, a stage spectacular based on a 16th-century North Indian story. ASB Waterfront Theatre from May 31 to June 2.

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