A maiden voyage to India

It’s already mid-June and I’m catching up to post about the previous month. May was a wild month, which included a couple of unexpected events, the most prominent of which was an unscheduled trip for work.

It was my first trip to Asia since 2003 and my first visit ever to India.

india sikh

Brief background: In my first year of university, I had a year-long immersion into Indian literature and culture, including an in-depth study of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the Mahabharata and parts of the Bhagavad-Gita, a sacred Hindu text. There was also an Indian drama in which I was required to act, and a lot of poetry, examinations of film and group discussions. While I received a thorough cultural, scholarly introduction to the subject, the country and its people seemed to be too…too everything: too bright, too intense, too sensually rich to the extent that reading about it made me feel overwhelmed, too violent, too passionate. It put me off to ever visiting India. I was just not interested.

Four things since that university introduction eventually changed my thinking about visiting India:

  1. During the first month or so of our acquaintance, the man who eventually became my partner expressed that the country that he MOST wants to travel to and experience is India. Huh.
  2. During the past 12 years or so, there has been a revival of interest and media coverage of western (meaning North American and European) Indian writers: Rohinton Mistry, Kiran Desai, Jumpa Lahiri, just to name a few, whose works I read and completely fell in love with.
  3. I came across William Darymple‘s travelogue/history books about India : City of Djinns, Nine Lives, The Last Mughal among them. His stories and his telling of various events in the history of India, plus his obvious passion for the country and its people lit some kind of interest in me, to see for myself the places and people that moved him so much that 6 or 7 books later, he was still writing about it.
  4. Bhangra. Indian students at my work introduced me to it and we just completely love it at our house.

So, when I was asked to go to India, I was happy to do so and it was everything I’ve ever read about it. A month later, I’m still processing some of the experiences I had, and I may share it in a later post one day. But the thing that stood out, clearly and notably, was the kindness and genuine interest and drive of the people that I met.