Everywhere else I’ve been in India, especially the bigger cities, there are plenty of people who speak English (even if only a little). That’s why I was really surprised about Surat. However, in retrospect, I suppose it could have something to do with the fact that I was near the bus and train station the whole time. I suppose the people traveling could have been from further outside the city and so they were less likely to speak English.
My favorite spot in India so far… hmmm. That’s a little tough! I’d have to say Gokarna and Udaipur. The energy and atmosphere here in Udaipur is just incredible. It really does feel like the Venice of the East (I say that without ever having been to Venice!).
As for the traveling speed: I definitely prefer staying longer — preferably 1 – 3 months. I feel rushed when it’s only a few days and I feel like I can’t just relax and take my time seeing places.
I had no idea you lived in Dharamsala. I was in the next town over, Ujire, for almost a month! I went to Dharamsala briefly to use an ATM, but I didn’t explore at all.