It’s a culture shock swapping the Shires for Bangalore. One is matted with grime and jammed with traffic, and the other is Bangalore. I jest of course my fellow shireites, and it was a wrench to leave, albeit temporarily, but the opportunity to travel with my mother and brothers to India was too good a cultural awakening to ignore. Although it shouldn’t be a revelation, getting to, and out of Heathrow, was the most difficult stage of the mission, due to the pre-requisite crash on the M25 and a visa that read one number out from my passport. In effect, I was refused permission to board due to a fat finger. Cue £100 spent on frantic phone calls to Delhi, and thanks to that rarity, a kind airport worker with access to a printer, I eventually received an email that got me past the BA Gestapo and onto one of Boeing's finest.

I did the usual tourist thang of reading Trip Advisor reviews, but only tasting the dish truly gives you the flavour. India is a country of two extremes: rich and poor! they cry. All I saw was families barely getting by, with an equal number living in abject, desperate, soul-destroying poverty. Watching grown men, wearing but a pair of soiled trousers, lying barefoot in the midday sun in the gutter becomes normality after a few days, despite the absolute abnormality of such a predicament. Children as young as three beg, destitute, homeless and ripe for sexual predator picking, while women with flesh eating diseases plead through the car windows for a few rupees, as we, to our shame on occasion, lock the doors and turn away to enjoy more of the air conned luxury.

Health and Safety is non-existent, with holes in the road and rabid dogs running amok through the streets past home-made scaffolding, and, in the consummate absence of white folk, you become the object of prolonged stares the moment you leave the bosom of the security-patrolled hotel complexes.

On a trip to ‘Wonderla’, India’s ‘premier’ theme park I was stopped by a jovial local who asked where I was from. ‘England’ I replied. He then asked if I could ‘do a photo’. ‘Sure’ I said as I went to take his wife’s camera phone. She pulled away, ‘no, with you!’ he stated. He then proceeded to place his right palm on my buttock before taking a picture of his wife with me and then the three of us together (with his hand firmly back on the buttock). Far from feeling like a paid-up member of the #metoo movement, I thought it must be an Indian thing. I checked later and it is not.

India is a fascinating, enlightening and jaw-dropping country, despite the visible sadness at every turn. It is easy to become hardened to such poverty, with buildings demolished and piles of rubbish strewn in every public crevice, which left me feeling guilty for complaining to St Albans council on the latest occasion they ‘forgot’ to collect the bins. India should, and could, attract more foreign visitors to sample the country first hand, but are hindered by one thing: the unashamed money-orientated nature of the society. Maybe it’s the fear of poverty and the lack of social support should it go belly up, but it's hard to feel as if we were treated as little other than a cash cow, ripe for milking.

Checking out of the hotel, they send a member of staff running to the room to confirm you haven’t stolen a hand towel (chargeable), you step in a lift and someone presses the button, then waits for a tip. They grab your bags despite protestations, carry them up four steps and wait for financial recompense and on and on it goes. You stand at the bar, order a beer, have hold of said beer, before a tug of war ensues. The barman insists you sit down so he can walk 20 yards to your table, then waits for a 50-rupee service remuneration. It becomes very draining, yet anything is purchasable if you are willing to throw a few notes their way. Personally, I found it all very demeaning but was told, in absence of verbal thanks, the more vigorously the locals shake their heads from side to side, the happier they are with the tip. Cue a game of bobble head, where we attempted to out tip each other, culminating in one taxi driver nearly breaking his neck after being handed a 200-rupee sweetener for opening the boot for us.

Would I go again? Yes. In a heartbeat. It is a long way from the ‘finished’ tourist article, but that is the attraction. The contrast, the surprises and the ravenous cow wandering into traffic against the flow add to the vibrancy. The incessant car horns and lunatic tuk tuk drivers add to the mix, even those who quadruple the fare as soon as your posterior hits the covered sponge seats. So, bravo India! It’s a must see for us gilded Westerners as we search for some level of humility, despite the lessons learnt being quickly forgotten. I have just arrived home and a neighbour has again parked across my driveway, causing some measure of effing and jeffing that is disproportionate to the offence, but as British as a prawn korma and pilau rice.