So dad leaves tonight after a long three weeks which have absolutely flown by. He is currently tucked up in bed with a cup of tea and the Far Pavillions, a book which it transpires, is also a three week journey.
My aim was to showcase my world to him, my India, the place I have made my home, an India of extraordinary experiences and people, not dead monuments and shopping scams.
What hasn’t happened?
Well, he hasn’t had even a moment of Delhi Belly.
He hasn’t witnessed excruciating poverty, but has rather met people who may not have much materially but who have, in his words, “huge smiles and a sense of joy.”
He hasn’t been to the Taj Mahal. This wasn’t my doing!! I did have it booked for him, but he didn’t feel the need to see it. Though I may have influenced him slightly: http://memsahibinindia.com/2013/05/11/not-the-bloody-taj-mahal/
What has happened?
Well, he has sampled the food from street samosas to a sumptuous Leela Sunday brunch. (See note above re Delhi Belly)
He tried chai, once.
He tried Old Monk, once.
He has tried to come to terms with Indian wine, and he drank a fair few bottles before making his final statement, “I’ve drunk worse.”
He has met elephants and been in a hot air balloon, seen and been driven around in an Ambassador and classic cars.
He has ridden a narrow guage steam train, and hung out of the door (I dragged him in before the tunnel!), and marvelled at The Meherangarh.
He has stayed in five star hotels, original Maharajas palaces (we almost lost him in one suite) and charming family homes.
He found driving on a four lane highway into the setting sun only to encounter a truck coming at us, in the wrong direction on a blind hill, “somewhat disconcerting.”
He has had his feet touched by several people from University professors to my local fruit vendor, claiming “my father is their father” and showing him respect. He was astounded.
He found Udaipur’s City Palace, “Impressive.” The NYE party there “extraordinary” right up until they ruined it with ridiculously loud music which he found deafening, and he is almost deaf!
He thought Kanha was “excellent.”
He has found much, “Interesting.”
He has been the king of the understatement in part because he has been so overwhelmed.
He has CONSTANTLY commented “What thoroughly lovely people,” with an element of wonder in his voice, more shocked that I have friends, I think, than that Indians didn’t run around with horns! My mantra has always been, “Monuments provide the backdrop but people provide the experiences.” He agrees, wholeheartedly.
He wishes he had come years earlier.
How did we spend our last night? We ordered pizza (another first for him), drunk tea and watched The Bucket List, about two silly old buggers traveling the world before they die. He said it was quite apt. They did go to The Taj Mahal and what a fanciful Taj it was, Hollywood really! No people there, but a plethora flowering trees and with rolling hills as a back drop. I told him it didn’t look like that.
I hope I have shown that India doesn’t have to be a set, bog standard itinerary which people claim to be tailored but isn’t at all. I hope I have shown him why I love it so much.
It’s been a blast and all of you out there who helped me put this all together for him, well, I can’t thank you enough.
He needs some time to process all that he has seen, and me? I need a rest!
For more alternative views on India: