The journey from Nepal to India took us to a small town called Sunauli. As we cleared immigration and walked to the frontier there was a huge sign standing high above us “Welcome to India” right away I knew that sign held a special significance. It was the start of a journey, one we could have never anticipated or predicted. Something we could never prepare for. A rollercoaster ride that would assault our every sense; It would throw at us everything it had.
Every journey starts with a single footstep and as we walked into India we had no idea what lay before us.
Fifty plus degree heat during the day, nights spent sweating in forty degree heat. Watching bodies burn in the streets, visiting temples thousands of years old, flying round cities in tuk tuks wondering if we will get off alive, cross country train journeys of twenty plus hours laughing with the locals, exploring huge intimidating forts, riding camels through a desert listening to Foo Fighters, sleeping beneath the stars so deep into India we were almost in Pakistan, trawling the bazaars for silks, climbing mountains, visiting tea plantations high up in the hills, surviving Mumbai, realising we’ll never fly Air India again, 5 star hotels, a room in someone’s house, floating around on houseboats down rivers surrounded by tropical greenery, climbing lighthouses, being in paradise and eating the most diverse and varied cuisine in the world.
There have been tears, laughter, friendships made and bonds between us made stronger.
India almost broke me and there were times the three of us were so exhausted we stayed in bed the whole day watching movies and trying to get our energy back. I never mentioned this but there was a point during the trip I was seriously considering bailing to Thailand. But we stuck with it and I’m glad we did.
We have to thank Rocky, I think we watched that film three times in one day but it gave us the recuperation we needed. We never lost our sense of humour though and that is probably what kept us going. We have shared laughter at the most unusual things (though still not Charlie’s jokes) and I distinctly remember, it was around 3am and we had to walk about 2 miles down this road in near complete darkness, we had our bags and I was pissed off and sweating. The streets were quiet and after about ten minutes of silence, from the darkness I just heard this gentle voice start singing, Charlie joined in seconds later and both Abi and Charlie sang the most beautiful song as we walked. There I was pissed off, they too were exhausted, they too had bags to carry, they too were walking when they should have been sleeping. They responded by singing, accepting the situation we were in, and being as resilient as they always are – Just got on with it.
As we walked along the beach in Chennai we reflected on our time in India and I asked the question “Are you glad to be leaving India” Abi answered how I expected her to “No, but I can’t wait to go to Sri Lanka tomorrow” Charlie showed his maturity and answered “Yes I’ll miss it, but I’ll miss what we couldn’t do. I’m coming back when I’m older anyway” I asked if they had both enjoyed their time in India and Abi said “It’s been ace, can we come next year” Charlie answered “Yeah proper, you can’t not enjoy it, but it’s been hard”
My responses to the same questions can be summed up easily; I loved India, genuinely. We have had the time of our life and India will always hold a special place in my heart. Not just for what you can do here, but also for the memories we shared. I think we have visited India at the perfect time, the country is changing. Anti corruption fills the news and the economy is on the verge of explosion in a phenomenally amazing way. India is one of the cheapest places to travel in the world and money means so much that if you have money, you can really open doors for yourself. We have made the most of that and done things which probably won’t be possible in the future. I will certainly miss India, but we did everything I wanted to and India is unbelievably hard work which this time has really got to me. For example, the hotel we are in now; we are four floors up and there are no stairs down so you have to walk up two flights of stairs to get a lift to the ground floor. It is things like that which are freakishly common that make travelling in India exhausting and at times immensely frustrating. But there are things we have done that will remain with me for the rest of my life. Round every corner was an opportunity to do something amazing and I guess the litmus test is that knowing what we know now would we do it again – In a heartbeat.
The next stop on the trip is Sri Lanka which is an hour away by air. As the plane leaves the tarmac at Chennai airport there’ll be mixed emotions between the three of us. Charlie and Abi will be doing what they do every time we are on a plane taking off which is put their arms up in the air like we are on a rollercoaster (believe me, some flights have felt like that) but me, I’ll be doing what I usually do which is look out of the window at what we are leaving behind an whilst I am as excited about Sri Lanka as the kids and am not sorry to be leaving India I know I’ll miss it.
The perfect way to conclude India would simply be to say that it has at times been difficult, but we have stuck together and pulled through it. By doing that we have done things we could have never dreamt of and seen things we could have never imagined.
Thanks India – We’ve had a blast.