This post will be about a dream of mine which I hope comes true this year. I’ve been dreaming, fantasizing, pining every single morning, day, evening and night about it. I think about it while walking to school, brushing my teeth and while making my tea. I day-dream about it at work and while trying to make roti for my grandmother (which might explain why my rotis never quite phul). Hot, exotic, romantic, erotic, incredible, colourful, adventurous, extravagant, rich and so much more. India! Home to the luckiest 1.2 billion people in the world.
It has been exactly 15 years since I have been to India, I was 10 years old when I last visited (I’ve only ever been there twice, before that I was 2 years old and I celebrated my second birthday in Chandigarh). Coincidentally, I celebrated my 10th birthday on the plane ride to India. Although I was young, I remember everything about it. I remember feeling overwhelmed walking out of the airport in Delhi to the most interesting harmony of city sounds; composed of car, bus, van and auto rickshaw horns (then you’d hear the occasional bicycle bell which sounds like the equivalent to the triangle in the symphony orchestra).
They were high-pitched and very wimpy sounding, maybe that’s why they never have an effect? The first thing I remember asking my mother, “eena rola kyon pehraya?” (why is it so loud?). I was surprised to see 4 brown men all running towards my father calling him “Bhaiya” offering to take our luggage to a white van (certainly they couldn’t all be my Chachajis? I thought to myself). I’ll never forget the first time I sat on a rickshaw, I felt nauseous; I was convinced I was going to fall for sure, I could feel it. I felt terribly bad for the tall and skinny rickshaw driver who would shift his body weight to pedal the rickshaw.
Bargaining! Not a completely foreign concept to me but it still surprised me because my mother was bargaining with the rickshaw driver (of all people) for a 50 rupee ride from point A to B. Math was never (and to this day is not) my forte but I knew the trip was about 2 dollars and that was a bargain, seeing as you cannot get very far with 2 dollars in Toronto.
I’ll never forget the first time I vomited in India, it was in the evening in Delhi after I had white cholay for lunch. It was terrible. It’s definitely not like vomiting in Canada because in Toronto my grandmother would give me ginger ale and soup and I have the option of running to Dr Yadav’s office. I’m sure there were plenty of Dr Yadavs in Delhi but getting sick in India is just not the same as getting sick at home and hing golee is definitely an acquired taste.
I remember Chandighar, my cousins (my age) asked me if I had ever had a “gol guppa” (pani puri), I said no. So they took me to a gol guppa stand at 9pm (even though my mother told me not to eat them as she feared that the water would make me sick). The gol guppa stand was cool but I was more amazed that four 10 year old kids were allowed to leave the house at night to get a snack without adult supervision. Hell, I wasn’t allowed to play in the backyard without my grandmother watching over me and my sisters.
In Agra I visited the Taj Mahal, I had never seen anything so white, this was whiter than a blanket of snow on the ground in December. Very pretty indeed, the next day Yanni played there. I will also never forget the first time I had noodles in kulfi, a combination that will always elude me but it was an interesting experience non the less. I will never forget the first time I drank milk from a clay pot glass in the streets of Agra at night, it was the best milk I have ever had (and there was no chocolate in it).
That same week I played Holi for the first time, it was the most coolest experience ever. It totally beat trick-or-treating. The most magical part of my three months in India was my visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. I had seen pictures of it, heard that it was made out of gold, knew the history of the building but I never thought I’d see it. It was beautiful. I have still not seen anything so breathtakingly beautiful as the Golden Temple.
I feel quite disappointed in myself for waiting 15 years to plan a trip to India. I mean, if you think about it, India is only a plane ride away. That’s practically a hop, skip and jump away. Whenever relatives call and ask “India neheen auna?” (don’t you want to come to India?), I have had the same stupid excuse for the last 8 years “it’s difficult to find time with school and work”. Now that I am a major (thesis-esque) research paper and one class away from finishing my Masters degree, this is the most free I will be for a while. I have been warned that I will pass out and realize how Canadian I am within the first few hours of landing in India in July but I am ready and so excited for what I think will be the most amazing 2 months of my life.Apple Kaur http://applekaurr.wordpress.com