Ode to an Indian Odyssey

 "We arrived in Delhi, rode elephants in Rajasthan, climbed Mt. Abu, breathed toxic fumes in Ahmedabad, shopped ‘till we dropped in Mumbai, drank coffee in Goa, partied in Bangalore, played maharajahs in Mysore, drank tea in Ooty, sunned ourselves in Mahabalipuram and left from Chennai five and a half weeks later.

We overpaid guides, underpaid waiters, terrified hotel maintenance men, supported a million beggars; we paid entrance fees, camera fees, transfer fees, luxury tax fees, surcharge fees, tip fees, laundry fees, liquor tax fees and fees for paying fees and we stood under the Gateway to India.

We saw a group beat up a man, a woman beat up a man, a squirrel run up a tree and the Taj Mahal.

We were in a riot that needed armed police to calm, a state that was at war with itself, drove through brigand country, were captured by an auto-rickshaw driver and watched a sunset over Goa.

We travelled in Ambassador cars, on trains, in buses, by planes, on foot and we stayed at Lalithamahal Palace.

We suffered cold showers, no water, power cuts, dreadful liquor, bad roads, hair-raising driving and we paddled in the Bay of Bengal.

We had our hands held by tall moustachioed turbaned doormen, our shoes cleaned by laughing urchins, our wallets cleaned out by persuasive traders and we dined by moonlight at Lake Palace.

We explored towering fortresses, Hindu temples, Jain temples, Mossie mosques and one Christian church and we feasted on the most exquisite food at Vishala in Gujarat.

We were accosted in sight, sound, taste, touch, smell and thinking in ways never before; we slept in guest houses, one star, two, three and five star hotels, in trains, cars and sometimes not at all and we walked where Gandhi walked at Sabarmati.

Jagdish spoke Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Swahili, English and Ian spoke crossly or not at all. We met one billion Indians in the street, no tourists, made friends in Bangalore parlours and dined at midnight. We went to a high society fashion show, high country tea plantation, and high tea at the Mumbai Taj.

We bought ten CDs, nine coasters, eight shawls, seven scarves, six shirts, five kurtas, four pairs of trousers, three belts, two rugs and one camel.

We left India as intact as she kindly left us. We flew out on the clock strike of New Year for Raffles in humid Singapore. We sat at the Long Bar and we drank Singapore Slings and thought of India."

Ian & Jagdish     (December 2002/January 2003)