India Never Disappoints
India was the last place on earth I wanted to visit the very first time I went there. I was on a one-year trip around the world and India was cheap so I went reluctantly. It didn't help that in the very first afternoon of my arrival a large, grey ugly rat greeted me in the shower in the $10-a-night "hotel" in Bombay where I was staying. After three months, I was glad to leave, tired of the poverty, the beggars, the noise and the tongue-burning spicy food.
In a letter home I wrote: "India is a country with too many people, too many cows, too many customs and too many Gods."
About a year after I left, India began to draw me back. Perhaps nostalgia had settled in and blunted the sharp edges of my memories. I wanted to look out a train window again to see flooded rice fields, men dressed in white loincloths guiding bullocks by their tails, women in brilliant-colored saris whipping clothes against rocks in the river. I may have been miserable in India, but I was never bored.
India Never Disappoints
Three years later I was back for a two-month sojourn. The grand palaces, Hindu temples, and mysterious caves covered with paintings and sculptures were just part of the reason I wanted to return. The other is difficult to explain. Perhaps it is because India is a 24-hour spectacle. There is literally never a dull moment. Every other country, no matter how beautiful or exotic, seems sedate and dull in comparison. In India you are overwhelmed by scenes, sights, sounds and smells. In the cities everyone is running, bustling, moving. The street is a river of taxis and rickshaws. Beautiful women in saris walk past families sleeping in the street among pushcarts loaded with spicy delicacies. Near the post office there is a long line of stalls occupied by men who write letters on old typewriters for illiterates. On another street there is a long line of stalls with barbers who give people a shave right on the street. It is an amazing country, a country of extremes.
Hindu temple .. Pushkar rajasthan
Back again for the third time
Recently I went back for my third trip, with a twenty-three year gap in-between. I was in my twenties during my first two trips, an adventurer, backpacking my way through Asia. I remember looking down on the middle-aged travelers in their air-conditioned first-class hotels and their air-conditioned busses. They were tourists while I was a traveler. I scoffed at their ambition to see India in two weeks.
Alas, now I was going to be one of them. I had booked a two-week trip with my friend, Hana, who had never been to India. At first she was game to backpack and stay in cheap hotels and travel by trains. But it didn't take me long to realize how absurd it was to try and relive my youth in a two-week trip. We arranged for a self-organized tour where a car (air-conditioned) with a driver and guide would meet us at every airport. We pre-booked hotels (air-conditioned). We arranged the entire trip with Paradise Holidays India of New Delhi, which proved reliable and kept every promise. When we ended the trip in New Delhi, the agency's owner, Hemant Gupta, invited us to his house for tea.
The Taj Mahal, cold marble, alive and warm
Since it was Hana's first trip, we could not skip places like the Taj Mahal, which I had already seen twice. But even if you have seen dozens of photographs of the Taj Mahal, and seen it for yourself, you're still not prepared for the vision that greets your eyes. Cold marble, alive and warm from the strong afternoon sun, draws you toward it like a child to a white frosted birthday cake. It is truly a wonder of the world, perfect, symmetrical, majestic. The very first time I saw it, I wondered who gets the credit for it. The emperor who built it as a memorial for his love? The Persian architect who was blinded so he would not be able to duplicate it? Or the 20,000 workers who labored at the emperor's decree for 20 years?
the city palace – udaipur
Udaipur a magical soft landing
We began the trip in Udaipur, a magical city around a lake in the Rajasthan area, a soft landing for Hana. No need to shock her by starting in a place like Bombay. I found a beautiful hotel, the Jagat Niwas, painted all white and situated right on Lake Pichola with a view of the Lake Palace. It was built in the 17th century with the charm of local Mewar architecture. The beautifully-decorated rooms are situated around a central courtyard and breakfast is served in a wonderful dining room facing the lake. At around $52 it is a real bargain. Ironically, as a young traveler, I could have never afforded to stay there. Maybe being a middle-aged traveler has its advantages. The next morning the driver and tour guide came to pick us up at the hotel and take us to see the sights. When you only have two days in a place it helps to have such an arrangement. It saves time and energy.
The next evening we took a night train to Jaipur in an air-conditioned sleeper. Yes, this was more like the good old days. I savored the noise, the discomfort, the inability to get comfortable and the lack of sleep. Oh, to be young again.
Jaipur-the pink city, but which shade?
Jaipur is known as the Pink City where all the buildings, palaces and forts in the walled section of this desert town were color-coordinated over 100 years ago by the resident Maharaja. While we were there, I picked up a copy of the Rajasthan section of the Times of India and read that the local government had decided that Jaipur has too many shades of pink and is determined to give it a uniform look. A committee is to decide exactly what shade of pink is to be used. The former Maharani of Jaipur advised that it should have some terracotta in it.
In Jaipur we stayed at the Hotel Madhuban, another heritage hotel decorated in authentic style and owned by a Maharaja. It is a beautiful oasis of calm about a ten minute drive from the bustling center.
Dramatic rise of the Amber FortI found myself again on elephant back going up to the Amber Fort, the original palace of the local rulers built in the 17th century high on a hill overlooking a lake. The towers, and domes and halls decorated with panels of alabaster with fine inlay make you feel like you are in a fairy tale.
On this trip I got to see some places that I missed on my other two trips, namely Khajuraho, with its temples covered with erotic sculptures, Orchha, a medieval city where grandeur has been captured in stone, and Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon after he became the "enlightened one."
Modernity has not yet caught up with India once you get out of the cities into the countryside. India is still a 24-hour exotic carnival and there is still never a dull moment.
And it is already drawing me back for another visit.
Dental Care while Traveling & Dental Tourism
Travel, dental care and "dental tourism."
Reprinted courtesy of American Dental Association.
Are you planning a vacation that includes dental care outside the U.S.? Or are you concerned aboutdental emergencies that may arrive while you are traveling?
Here are some things you should know before you go.
Dental Care Overview
A checkup is especially important if you'll be traveling in developing countries or in remote areas without access to good dental care.
Left to chance, emergency dental care may be uncomfortable, dangerous and expensive. And dental care providers in developing regions may not have the resources, equipment or supplies to take all of the recommended precautions for preventing disease transmission.
If you are thinking about going outside the U.S. for your dental care as part of a vacation (also known as "Dental Tourism"), here are some things to consider: Dentists practicing in the U.S. attend four years at an accredited dental school (usually in addition to their bachelor's degree). They pass national and state dental board examinations before they receive a license to practice.
Each state in the U.S. has a board of dentistry that oversees all practicing dentists. The state dental boards have rules and regulations that dentists must follow.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issue recommendations to dental offices regarding 1) educating and protecting dental health-care personnel; 2) preventing transmission of bloodborne pathogens; 3) hand hygiene; 4) personal protective equipment; 5) contact dermatitis and latex hypersensitivity; 6) sterilization and disinfection of patient-care items; 7) environmental infection control; 8) dental unit waterlines, biofilm, and water quality; and 9) special considerations (e.g., dental handpieces and other devices, radiology, parenteral medications, oral surgical procedures, and dental laboratories). These recommendations were developed in collaboration with and after review by infection control authorities from the CDC and other public agencies, academia, and private and professional organizations.
Dentists in the U.S. are also held to a high standard of care. For example, they must follow infection control guidelines to prevent bloodborne illnesses from spreading. They must abide by regulations for radiation safety (X-ray equipment and its use) and for proper waste disposal. These standards are in place for your safety and for that of dental office staff.
What You Should Know about Dental Care Before You Travel
Before you travel out of the U.S. for dental care, check with the health department or ministry in the destination country to see what national guidelines are in place for dentists.
What are the qualifications of the dentist who will be treating you? Some dentists may be trained in countries other than the one they're practicing in.
What happens if something goes wrong during or after treatment? Is there a complaint process or a method for getting a refund if you are not satisfied? If you can't get a refund, is there meaningful recourse for dental treatment that is unsatisfactory or harmful? Will you have a right to sue? If so, can you do so cost effectively? Will you need to retain a foreign lawyer? Or return to the country where you received care to testify or appear at trial? WIll you get a fair trial? All of these are important considerations before seeking care in other countries.
At the dental office, look for infection control procedures. The dentist should wear clean surgical gloves (that have not been used on other patients), a mask and protective eyewear. Dental instruments should be properly sterilized and other infection control procedures should be followed.
You could also check to see if the country keeps records of complaints against health care professionals. If so, you could check with the country's appropriate oversight agency, such as the Ministry of Health, if you know the name of the dentist who will provide treatment.
Here in the U.S., people often ask their family and friends for referrals to health care providers. The same principle could apply when you must travel outside the country. If someone you know has received dental care in a foreign country and seemed satisfied, you could ask for a referral to that particular dentist.
Be Prepared for Dental Emergencies While Traveling
The Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) has a Traveler's Guide to Safe Dental Care, which includes a checklist for safe dental treatment abroad.
For more information visit:
Before you travel abroad, ask your dentist if he or she has contacts in dental fraternity groups such as the Academy of Dentistry International, the International College of Dentists or the Pierre Fauchard Academy. The foreign embassy offices in Washington, DC, or a local consulate may also be helpful.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, (IAMAT), maintains a network of medical personnel, hospitals and clinics around the world that have agreed to treat IAMAT members in need of care. IAMAT is helpful in referring patients to dentists. Any traveler can belong to IAMAT. There is no membership fee, although a donation is welcome.
For more information visit:
If you are traveling in Europe, contact the American Dental Society of Europe (ADSE). The Society's membersâ€“dentists who live and work in Europeâ€“have completed a full-time course of study at a recognized dental school in the United States or Canada.
For more information visit:
The American Dental Society of Europe
Dr. Alastair MacDonald
62 Highburgh Road, Glasgow
G12 9EJ Scotlan
Phone: 011 44 141 331 0088
Fax: 011 44 141 338 8109
Many countries have dental associations that can provide referrals. Visit the International Directories section for a list of International Dental Associations.
A dental school in another country may also be an option. Check the FDI World Dental Federation Web site:
Dental referrals may be available from a hotel concierge, the American Consulate (see U.S. Department of State) or the American Embassy in the country you are visiting. The best insurance, however, is to have your teeth in tip-top shape before you depart.
Reprinted courtesy of American Dental Association ()
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