The first few days...
03.05.2008 - 03.08.2008 80 °F
Namaste from India!
I hope this message finds you all well, happy and grateful. I begin this blog from the Thibetan Camp in Delhi and end it in Jaipur. Time in internet cafes has come in short periods, so it’s taking some time to write. Our trip to India was pretty easy, it's amazing what being up all night packing can do to get you to sleep sitting straight up for 24 hours!
So, before I delve in, there's this commercial out right now that really touched me and from the first time I heard it, it put into words what I've been thinking for so long on my many trips and will continue to think about on this one...It goes like this:
'What is a journey? A journey is not a trip. It’s not a vacation. It’s a process, a discovery. It’s a process of discovery. A journey brings us face to face with ourselves. It not only shows you the world, but how we fit in it. Does the person create the journey, or does the journey create the person? The journey is life itself. Where will life take you?'
If it sounds familiar, it’s a Louis Vatton commercial (yes, I know)…doesn't it make you want to run and buy a $2200 Louis Vatton bag?? Ummmm, not me. But the message is so on point for me that I had to share it.
Now, let’s start with the beginning of my journey. I have to say, that my departure was tough. Separating myself from the level of comfort that family, friends, a good career, a home, etc. has been quite challenging and a reality that unexpectedly slapped me in the face once I was ready to go. It was hard. It's still hard. My emotions are on overdrive and my head won’t stop. But now, being with my mom, I know that this different kind of home I have chosen is the right one right now– my mom. No more to say on that...
As for the first leg of our trip…we landed in Delhi without backaches, lost luggage or visa issues. All good signs in my book! We arrived to our hotel at almost 4:30 am and my crazy head wouldn't stop so I unpacked, repacked, read, wrote in my journal...all until exhaustion caught up with me and I literally heard the roosters crow when I finally decided it was time to sleep. The next morning we took our time getting up, ate who knows what for lunch (it was yummy!) and headed out to locate the most obscure travel agency in this continent. No joke. The travel agent I have been communicating with over email for over a month to set up our tour of Northern India told us (in a great mix of British and Indian accent of course) 'Madame, A+ marks for finding this very good establishment on your first day in Delhi. Very good ladies',). That's right! We aced Delhi.
Now, let's talk about Delhi. There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do or tell you to prepare you for the onslaught of sounds, sights and smells in this City. Delhi is an eye opener – the streets are filled with non-stop mechanical and human traffic where not an inch of space is wasted – it is downright confusing, confronting and in-your-face for first timers like my mom and I. Delhi is huge, it’s loud, it’s chaotic and a shock on the senses. It’s a mix of old and older. Of forgotten and abandoned buildings. Of slums and highrises. But it has some great history and if you can look away from the gritty surface, there’s some great places to discover.
We wondered around the Red Fort, a phenomenal testament to the once mighty Mughals in India, toured Jama Mosque (huge and not that impressive) then headed to Gandhi’s last home and saw the exact spot where he was assassinated. His home was a very special place, you could feel the energy the moment you walked in and both my mom and I loved the experience. After we checked out the beautiful Qutb Minar, a soaring tower built to proclaim the arrival of Islam to India. Later, we did what we do best and shopped our little hearts out for sari’s and pashminas. We could have gone on for hours, had we not been starving, but it was pure comedy to hear shopkeepers yell to us every few seconds “hello madame, come in. No buy, no problem” in an Indian accent of course!
Posing with my new friends.
But, enough of Delhi (not our cup of tea – although the chai is fabulous everywhere we go), now we’re headed to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. We were so excited to head out, specially my mom, who is very unhappy with our very shady hotel in Delhi, and our tour officially starts which will afford us a private chauffer, car, guides and you guessed it, some pretty nice hotels. So much for “backpacking through India”!
The Taj….there are really no words to describe this amazing palace. It’s been described as the most “extravagant monument ever built for love” and although I have heard and read about it, there are not enough adjectives to prepare you for the awesome beauty and overwhelming feeling of gratitude it brings. Really. This is a must see, for sure. Nothing I say will come close to describing it – but I will say I loved it and will come back someday to take another round of 100 pictures or so.
I would love to go on, but as I sit here, next to a Buddhist munk dressed in bright orange and yellow robe with a freshly shaved head typing away in a booth next to me, I’m being shushed out of here by a man with a red turban on his head. I think they are closing. Woah, I’m in India!
More to come soon my friends!! Take good care, enjoy life, smile!
'Own Only What You Can Carry With You, Know Languages, Know Countries, Know People…Let Your Memory Be Your Travel Bag'