Okay, so you may not think of India as the ‘cradle of the human race’ or ‘the birthplace of human speech’ as Mark Twain did, but what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about India? Perhaps it’s the population of a billion people, perhaps it’s Yoga or if you are of Indian heritage and have been to the country; it’s the dirty streets and the ridiculous traffic that comes to mind (apart from the great food that has a high potential of getting you sick). To me, India is all of that and more. It’s the country of saints and beggars, progression and history, agriculture and industrialization, religion and spirituality, and a country of despair and faith.
Every time I go back to visit India, I feel like I’m ‘home’. I have lived in the United States most of my life, I have had citizenship of three countries yet every time I go back to India, I feel a sense of belonging that I don’t feel anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s because India is the country of my birth or the fact that half of my family is still there or because everybody in India looks like me but I can say this without a doubt that the relationship I have with India is one of love and pride. I mean that’s got to be the reason why I get teary eyed every time my flight lands in India. Yes, the country of a billion people may not be the cleanest, it may not have the best infrastructure, it may have one of the most corrupt political systems but at the end of the day- the hospitality and love you find in India is incomparable.
Meeting my extended family is one of the highlights of every trip that I make to India. The family that I only see once every few years but the one that welcomes me with open arms every time. And even though, it’s hard to see my grandparents age, seeing them takes me back to my childhood and brings back nostalgic memories of being a kid again. This trip to India was extra special because I got to introduce my six year old to his great grandparents for the very first time- there is nothing more precious than having four generations in one room.
Love my family:
For me, no trip to India is complete without a little sight seeing. One thing to know about India- no matter what city you may be visiting, you will almost always find a an old temple or a mosque or some historical structure by the side of the road that would represent the rich cultural significance of the area. Needless to say, there is a LOT to see in India and I hope one day I get to see all of it.
South of India- Goa
(Places visited in Goa- North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant, Basilica of Bom Jesus, stayed at Taj Exotica, Caravela Beach Resort, Taj Vivanta )
North India- New Delhi
(Places visited in Delhi: Delhi Haat, Qutab Minar, Lodi Garden, Kingdom of Dreams, Musical Zangoora @ Kingdom of Dreams, stayed at the Vivanta by Taj in Surajkund)
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, may have found just spirituality in India. I believe India has all three- the food in India is an explosion of flavors that makes you aware of all your senses; spirituality, of course, is embedded in our culture; and love- love is in the hospitality of those that may not even know you; it’s in the smiles of those that live by the side of the road but are happy despite their misfortunes; it’s in the heart of those strangers that will walk an extra mile to lead you in the right direction; it’s in the power of Yoga and the peace you find in meditation; it’s in the Temples, in the Mosques, in the Churches, in the Gurudwaras. And even though, India may have its challenge; I believe India’s true progress lies in its secularism.