(If you want to visit India with Paul, here is the detailed itinerary. Also see below.)

India surprised me. On my first trip there in 1968 I learned that India is a remarkably rich country, rich in abundant minerals, timber, oil and manufacturing.

India has the 10th largest GDP and the 3rd largest PPP in the world. On the whole, people are industrious, hard working, entrepreneurial, friendly, and hospitable. And yes, India is crowded in its big cities: like Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi. Certainly, as rich as India is, there is much poverty. At the bottom of the economic pyramid is a huge agrarian and urban labour force, and the dirt poor.

Yet, this does not alter the overall truth, for me, that India is an exquisite and wonderful place, full of heart and soul, richness and creativity. And although some are suffering in the extreme, and some have so much more than they know what to do with, many lifetimes over, it’s also worth noting that much of the same is true in every country in our world, including North America, which doesn’t lessen the insanity of such a rich planet embodying so much poverty.

India is also magnificently rich in creativity. Its many cultures–15 official languages and 700 dialects–creating a plethora, a virtual cornucopia of music, dance, poetry, literature, film, weaving, carving, pottery, brass and copper work, and on, and on, and on. India is a visual treat, a country full of greenery, flowers, and brightly colored saris. Because of climate, it’s a very alive country with much of life lived out-of-doors. Shops and stalls are open to the street displaying their wares outside, vendor’s carts abound selling tea, snacks, soft-drinks, flowers and more. Sports are played everywhere and children play outside, year around, with toys, sticks, balls, kites and whatever they can create.

I also love the visual variety in India, as one occasionally drives around Brahma bulls as they wander or sit in the roadway, or the juxtaposition of ancient and new, as internet cyber-cafes nestle in beside ancient temples to the gods. And while I stopped counting long ago, I have been to India about 55 times and there is so much more to say about India that perhaps it needs another book.

Many times people have said to me, “I’ve always wanted to go to India, but it scares me.” A few years ago, someone said, “Would you ever take people there?” What a great idea, I thought.

So in 2013 and 2014, I took small tour groups to many of my favourite places in India, from the deep southern state of Kerela right up into the northern foothills of the Himalayas, and Rishikesh. These are joyful journeys of inner and outer discovery, and I’ll be taking another group in October 2015.  Do let me know if you’d like to join us.