Reminiscing India

by - February 01, 2016

This country has been mentioned a lot in our future travel wish list, even though no concrete plans have been made yet. I’ve actually been there once; and following all these talks, I dug through my computer for the pics and videos from my previous trip, and started reminiscing.

I visited the country with my sister in 2012; it was a short trip, 9 days. July is the end of monsoon season so the weather was not ideal. Even though it was muggy and cloudy and sticky almost the whole time, luckily the rain was limited to sparse drizzles and it sorta added to the whole experience! We went to Cochin for my colleague’s wedding, followed by a short 5-day tour with Intrepid to the golden triangle: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The tour just comprised of us two and another European man who joined us for Delhi and Agra, with a different local tour guide from every city. It was a great way to travel; intimate and authentic.

It was so different from my other holiday trips. I find India messy, chaotic, and wonderful; it is an attack to the senses, a strange land where everything you feel seems intensified.

A multitude of memories started flooding back: last minute buying of ‘lehenga’ (Indian dress) and had it fitted, altered and delivered just hours before the wedding. We attended a merry Indian Mendhi night, wedding ceremony and reception, and a lazy boat ride through Kerala backwaters with friends.

Walking barefoot on  the wet, post-rain ground at the courtyard of Delhi’s oldest mosque and getting scammed by a fake tour guide there. Also barefoot into the big, hot, steamy kitchen inside a Sikh Gurdwara.

Standing in awe of breathtaking architecture, imagining proud, ancient royals and India’s majestic past through our tour guides’ stories.

Admiring the fine artistry details that adorned each historical building.

Sipping Indian hot tea on a rooftop cafe with the Taj in the background, watching as the last light left the day, while having awkward small talks with our sleazy-looking but well-meaning Agra tour guide. The beauty of stillness and contrast where ancient grandeur stood side by side with present day sprawling messy city. Realising that the phrase “so beautiful I could weep” could actually be real.

Our chatty, friendly driver who worked hard for a living, far away from his home, wife and kid. Unlike the local city tour guides he traveled with us across Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Like many North Indians his hair’s tinted with reddish bright orange. He somehow injured the side of his head and had to go to the doctor  but assured us that it was nothing serious.

Indian tourists who were super excited to see us foreign tourists. They took photo of us, and likewise, we of them.

Our kindly Agra fort tour guide who was like a fatherly figure. Our annoying, bossy Jaipur tour guide who never smiled and lectured us like we’re little kids (we told him off afterwards).

Eating the most delicious meat and vegan curries. Collapsing on the clean sheets of the hotel rooms while thanking God that we chose the ‘comfort’ accommodation option (ha!). The happiness of a simple egg sandwich after curries everyday. The crazy Indian traffic and drivers – they are truly fearless! And they honk, a lot.

Dogs and cows, camels and monkeys, elephants and goats. The animals of India.

A textile shop visit and block-printing demonstration somewhere in India. I remember the worker was a middle age man who seemed to have a mixed Indian/Chinese heritage. He had a slightly creepy grin and different coloured eyes: his natural brown, and his bad eye shockingly pale blue, almost white. Ah, little snippet of memories.. 

Unlike other holidays where time zipped by like lightning, the 9 days strangely felt long at times, short at others. It was not the easiest of trips but certainly one of the most memorable… we almost kissed the ground in relief when arriving in clean and orderly Singapore afterwards. Immediately after the trip, when asked whether I wanted to go back, I said yes, but not in the near future.

Now I want to go back!

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