A first trip to India is so disorientating for western people that it is easy to lose his landmarks. Some even lose their head ! Repatriations for psychological troubles are common. Indeed, for most ( western) travelers, the first days are destabilizing because of extreme poverty and dirt, because of the many beggars who appeal to you constantly, the stifling crowd,… The contrast is so intense, the feelings are extreme. Over time, some become used while others lose their head. Among them, the long distance travelers are frequent. They are like “wandering souls in search of spirituality” who let them abandon to “the never-ending time” and marginality.
In India, many “sadhu” ( hindu ascetics who dedicate their life to God) live on the fringe of society. They make a living out of alms, they wander from villages to villages, from towns to towns, they smoke hashish. A way of life very attractive for travelers, who could be called the new hippies. In the 60’s and the 70’s, travelling in India was an initiatory journey; now, many lose ground. They break with their roots, they go to ashrams, they follow gurus they sometimes pay a fortune. They advocate asceticism, they let their hair grow like the “sadhu”, they discard their clothes…and their identity papers. They reject their own culture, they want to fully live the indian experience. Some even believe they have heard the message of a hindu god to justify their wandering. In brief, many of them end one day in the corridors of the embassies looking for help.
There are travels to which it’s better to be prepared !