So now we're in India, in a city called Varanasi. Let's just say we're glad that we're traveling overland... otherwise the culture shock that we are experiencing in India would be so much greater.
Our first experience with a new alphabet was three months ago in Russia; our first squat toilet was in China (and we've been carrying around our own t.p. ever since); we first encountered cows on the street in Tibet; and we were first overwhelmed by touts in Nepal. We overcame each of these 'shocks' gradually. If we had flown straight to Delhi, we would probably find it all overwhelming.
Still, India has provided a few new shocks. Rickshaw drivers take you to the hotel with the biggest commission, instead of the one you asked for. There are cows everywhere! And people, dogs, pigs, goats, monkeys - as well as their respective wastes. And there are beggars on every street corner - often young children...
Despite all of this this, our first few days in India have been really good. We escaped the hectic streets and just walked along the (concrete) banks of the Ganga river. Locals use the water for bathing and laundry, and it is also a very holy river. If you die in Varanasi, and are cremated on the banks of the Ganga, then you stop the cycle of reincarnation and automatically go to nirvana, regardless of your past sins. So, there are two sites along the river where cremations are held - 24 hours a day. Along the banks, there are also innumerable temples, palaces and water buffalo.
A few days in Varanasi has helped ease us into our travels in India.