I met with my fabulous editor, Laura Wine Paster the other day. She had just returned from a ten day trip to India. She was exhausted, but exhilarated. “I had an amazing time,” she said, “and I’m going back!” Just like Oprah, I mused. She laughed and said, “That’s what everyone’s been saying to me!” From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Oprah Winfrey, What is that foreigners love about India and it keeps them coming back?  After conducting a ridiculously unscientific poll, here are the


1. THE SPIRITUALITY: As the global community becomes increasingly capitalistic, the quest for spirituality has grown in urgency. India, its people, its infrastructure and indeed its very soil encourage and breed spiritualism. Sharell Cook says that one of the things that impressed Oprah so much about India is that people don’t just talk religion in India – they live it. From poor people in chawls, to movie stars such as the Bachchans, everyone has a space devoted to prayer in their homes. There is a dedicated practice of going inwards and reflecting on something bigger than the self. Oprah admitted she hasn’t felt like this anywhere else. (

2. THE CLOTHES: “Indian fabrics are soooo beautiful,” said Laura to me, and I have to agree. From the rich-looking brocade to the ethereal muslin to the classic Indian silk, Indian fabrics are much admired and display every shade of the rainbow.  One tip: When visiting, wear black or dark-colored clothes, because no matter now posh your accommodation you will get covered in dust. 

3. THE WARMTH OF THE PEOPLE: In developed countries there is an ongoing trend towards non-interaction. Whenever possible, modern technological facilities ensure you can perform most of your daily tasks without actually having to talk to anyone. Not so in India. Everyone in Indiafrom the street cleaner to the average mom-and- pop-store owner has a phone. And what do they use it for? Speech! Not speech-in-quotes or a text transmitted over phone lines, but actual “talking”!

4. THE FOOD: Everyone loves to (over)feed a guest in India. My mom calls it “hostile hospitality”. From masala chai and street food to puris and chole bahtura – Indiaoffers an immense cultural smorgasbord – which no true-blood foodie can forget.

5. THE LURE OF THE TAJ MAHAL: “I was going to actually give the Taj a pass and skip it,” said Laura. “After all, how many times has one seen the Taj in movies, images, brochures etc. But I went along because the rest of my group wanted to view it. And I’m glad I did. It’s a remarkable experience.” I would concur. The Taj is timeless. And, part of the magic of seeing the Taj in person is the way the light of the sun and moon play off the marble.

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