In the weeks leading up to our departure I prattled on earnestly about the intensity of the noise, crowds and smells of India, hoping to sensitise my husband to the differences he would encounter as soon as he stepped off the plane. I suppose I was trying to mentally prepare myself to return to a country that I last visited almost 10 years ago.
We made frequent trips to India to visit family and friends when we lived in Dubai, unfortunately always during the June to September monsoon period. Travelling was a nuisance with the heavy rains, bouts of food poisoning were always round the corner and I don’t even want to go into the agony of having to use squatter toilets. I also have specific memories of being knocked over by a mini van while trying to cross a road in Bangalore (now called Bengaluru) and suffering through a cockroach infested bus on an overnight trip somewhere.
So to everyone reading this, please forgive my reticence. Now, after two positively wonderful weeks in India, I’m hoping to blog my way out of all the guilt!
I’m overcome with homesickness. This peaceful and neutral country I now call home is just a little bit too quiet – people need to beep their horn more in Switzerland! My New Year’s resolution is to work off the many pounds I have gained eating – and I kid you not – 4 meals a day over 2 weeks.
Someone said to me that India hasn’t changed. I have.
I’m not quite sure I agree with the first part of that statement. India has changed. Anyone still calling it an underdeveloped country needs their head checked. Everyone, who is anyone, now walks around with a mobile phone and the middle class has visibly grown, although the disparities between the rich and poor still exist. I was particularly struck by the changes in Mumbai. It’s cleaner, prettier and greener than ever before. But there are some things that haven’t change. We Indians are crazy drivers and for this reason I refused to cross the street without local assistance!
Have I changed? Maybe. If I have, I credit my husband and travel partner Michel (a.k.a Mitchell or Michael, which ever tickles your fancy!) for getting me to this stage. For every reason I had to not visit India, Michel had at least three to counter my arguments. The day before we took off he asked me to keep an open mind – after all it will always be my country regardless of the passport I hold. It was interesting to see India through his eyes. He saw past the crowds, noise and smells and focused, as he usually does, on the best of what the country has on offer.
So I’m dedicating the next few blogs to Michel, all the Medeiras in Mumbai, Armugan our trusty driver in Mumbai, the Martins of Udipi, the Rodrigues family of Mangalore and the lovely Ralph from Goa.