Howard Debenham is a former career diplomat and author of "Waiting 'round The Bend", who now lives in Batemans Bay. Today he shares his admiration for a "fabulous India" which, for the tourist, provides "more peaks than pits".
Not that long after Adam made landfall, I landed in India on my first diplomatic posting. Having earlier been talked out of taking up the deeply appealing adventure of patrol officering in the mysterious plumes-and-arrows world of Australian-administered Papua New Guinea, I had been keen to start my overseas service in Foreign Affairs somewhere more unknown to most Australians than cushy Europe.
How kaleidoscopic India opened my eyes!
And how keenly enhanced this was 10 years later when, from the outset of a second posting there, my wife of but half a dozen years, Joosik, with our two little boys aboard, took to this extraordinarily diverse and challenging country as hungrily as I had.
From the time of my first arrival in India, in 1965, I set about getting a grip on the historical backdrop to what was so vividly in play.
Descended from Genghis and Kublai Khan (spanning 1162 - 1294 CE) down through Tamerlaine the Great (1336 - 1405 CE), the Mughals (Mongols or Mongolians) had subjugated a vast swathe of the sub-continent by the early part of the 1500s, forging an empire of contiguous princely states and achieving astounding power and wealth, cultural and artistic vibrancy, agrarian reform, and, for a long time, religious harmony.
After an extraordinary run of strong pluralist leaders such as Babur, Akbar and Jahangir, the dynasty took a serious downturn under the severe political and religious intolerances of Aurangzeb ((1658 - 1707 CE).
The cunning British, initially masquerading as Robert Clive's East India Company, were already there, poised to make their move.
India is big, it's bold, It's outrageously diverse, it can be inspiring, it can be heartbreaking ... and it shouldn't be missed.
This morphed into the "British Raj" - a grand term of their own for a level of power and dominance which, for a time, veiled the extent to which the British plundered and looted India from its 27 per cent of the world economy in 1700 down to just 3 per cent when they fled the country in 1947, leaving behind a bloodbath of their own making.
Yes, they did forge some political unity in the country - if mostly against themselves - and the makings of a democracy which has since grown and steadily stabilized. But they left barely an impression on the grandeur, beauty and vibrancy of Mughal, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh greatness which abound and continue to be enriched throughout India.
The India of today offers great riches for the adventurous traveller. But for those used to the comforts and certainties of life in Oz, with the occasional five-star Pacific cruise or whip around Europe, it presents a very different reality, where some of the world's deepest pits and most soaring peaks of life and its living are on show.
Historic cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai - now groaning under the weight of massive urban growth and every imaginable kind of pollution - should, however, be avoided, as more time can be spent in cacophonous tangles of fingernail-biting traffic than in actually seeing the sites.
There, visitors can be confronted, throughout, by their feelings of and for the extreme poverty which will press up and against them everywhere they go - other than in the heavily secured islands of five-star malls and hotels.
Instead, they should head for the breathtaking snow-capped Himalaya and Karakorum mountain ranges sweeping grandly across the north; the vast tea "gardens" of Assam and Darjeeling in the north east; the cool hills of "Ooti" (Ooticumund) in the south; the coast at Kerala or once Portuguese Goa; the rugged deserts of the Deccan, such as in Rajasthan where remnants of the mightiest fortresses ever built anywhere abound; extraordinary national parks and game reserves such as Kaziranga on the mighty Brahmaputra river, Corbett, Ranthambore and Sariska; or astoundingly vibrant religious and cultural centres such as Varansi at the confluence of "Mother Ganga" (Ganges) and the Yamuna rivers, Rishikesh/Haridwar, Amritsa, Sarnath and glorious Kashmir.
Though extreme poverty cannot be escaped anywhere in India, out in places such as these, people seem more at ease with their circumstances and more interested in getting on with their lives than in being seen by others as objects for sympathy. In the market places, where just about everything goes, everyone is free to wander and little notice is taken of passers-by, Indian or foreigner.
Home-town travel agencies will, naturally enough, steer travellers towards what they regard as being the safest tours - boats. buses, trains and aircraft full, mostly, of other foreigners.
It can take a bit of nerve to go local, but it is eminently possible to sort the good from the bad - especially with the help of sophisticated sources such as the website for the Indian Ministry of Tourism's "Incredible India".
In March 2017, we arrived in India with nothing arranged other than to drop into the nearest Ministry shopfront and take it from there; the outcome of which was, a couple of days later, the start of a memorable month-long driving tour of intriguing Rajasthan.
Overall, today's travellers in India can be very much more assured of safety, reliability, convenience, courtesy and hospitality than was the case not so long ago; and English is spoken, beautifully, just about everywhere.
India is big, its bold, its outrageously diverse, it can be inspiring, it can be heartbreaking ... and it shouldn't be missed.