When people ask me what India's like, I stumble trying to understand what I think about it. Honestly, I hate so much of it! Being a pasty white boy I get constant harassment from shop keepers, beggars and street hawkers who don't seem to know the meaning of 'no'. Then there's the people who come up to you and just stare blankly at you whilst not even acknowledging your presence, or there's the one's that have no concept of personal space and wake you up to ask if the freckles on your arms are 'marks from god'. Then there's the dreaded 'You like crigit?' 'Nah sorry, I don't watch cricket' 'Me, I like crigit! Ingerrrlund has some very gud players....'.
Then there's the state of the country, vast amounts of it are in a disgusting state. 1.25 BILLION people living in a relatively small area is gonna have it's problems, and where to put all of their rubbish is a big one. I came up with a disturbing theory when we were there; most of the country's population don't use toilet paper, just a bit of water and their left hand, and for the super poor (In 2012, the Indian government stated 60% of its 1.2 billion population is below its official poverty limit), soap is a luxury they can only dream of. So basically most locals are walking around with poo particles all over their hands, and they're touching everything, the rickshaw handles, the railings, the pole on the train, leaving me to the conclusion that India is covered in a layer of poo particles. You won't be able to unthink that next time you touch a railing in India. Sorry.
Having said that, I love the place! Having been 3 times know, I still can't wait to go back. Firstly it's beyond cheap, Where else in the world can you get a 27hr train, with a bunk bed for $7.50 (£5). A bottle of rum for $1.50 (£1), big ass samosas for 15c (10p)? When we first got to Goa we spoilt ourselves for a couple of weeks as we'd been working hard all summer, even when we ate 3 or 4 times a day, drinking fruit juice, beer and wine all day we never spent more than £22, for both of us, including our beach hut.
It's also a country with outstanding beauty that has something for everyone. With mountains and trekking to the north, wildlife you wouldn't believe in the north east, the beautiful deserts of Rajasthan, endless beaches in the south... The list is endless. It would take years to see and experience it all.
Secondly, it's just totally backwards and lawless there. Train doors are always open and it's fine to hang out of them, you can sit on car/van/truck roofs, which we did a couple of times hitchhiking back from the local 'bar' when we were learning to paraglide. Not used to driving on their side of the road? No worries, just drive on what ever side you want. Been caught short and need a shit (oh, it'll happen)? Just pop a squat wherever. It's great, you've gotta go!!!
My biggest piece of advice I can give you is you have to travel there, not go on a holiday. If you only go for a few weeks, you won't be able to see through the shit, the vacant stares and the constant harassment, it'll be enough to make you never want to go back, which would be a tragedy. After a few months there you will eventually be able to see India's charm under it's layer of poo particles, you'll meet some amazing locals, eat the best food and have some amazing experiences.
Once you've travelled India, you can travel anywhere. Stop procrastinating and book that flight, you'll love it!