snapshot into our summer travels
Before we tailspin into another two weeks of travel, I'm glad to be back at my own home, even if it is for two nights.
We had an absolute blast in India - 12 cities in 6 weeks, and I don’t really know how many hours it all took or how many states we flew or drove through. We were determined to be tourists, and I have to share this with those who were only seeing our photographs.
There were times when our body just ached to be in a flat comfy soft bed with the AC / ceiling fans / cooler turned way up high, and then, others, when we cuddled under the warmth of our cozy comforter as the heavy rains and winds whipped outside our windows. There were times when we were warm, cold, dry, drenched, hungry, overfed, tired or relaxed; times when our eyes were too sleepy to take in the sights and other times when we were too awake to sleep, sometimes forcefully. There were times when we just wanted to come back to our mundane routines in the US and not deal with anything or anyone anymore, and others - when every second was too precious to even blink or breathe lest the magic be broken.
We wandered in many of the markets just like the locals did, found really neat things, and then there were places that we did not even dare venture out of the car – for we were too timid to venture out of the comfortable smells of our car. We became the obnoxious tourists then.
We bowed our heads in reverence in many places of worship and offered flowers, prayers and wishes to the forces that be; saw incredible art – and talked to many genuine and local artists that were simply glad to have an audience. I was literally in tears in Sawantwadi – a dream come true.. seeing a dying art form still being fiercely protected by those that still cared. I bargained like my Bombay roots had taught me to, haggled with sellers who thought they could overprice, and overpaid artists and craftsmen and women – when I knew they were being authentic about their craft. I admired the colors, the flavors, the smells (well, most of them), and many of the unusual oddities that are simply part of the daily vocabulary of India.We went to several museums and gift shops and by now, I can find a bargain that even the locals may not be aware of! We took pictures, hired guides to show us around and basically made sure that no one took advantage of the fact that we spoke in some of the local languages but were clearly not local.
We ate with our friends and family, with food made by friends, by friends of friends, by their personal chefs or by their mother-in-laws, in restaurants run by professional chefs and from kitchens I would not want to enter – because they may put off my appetite for weeks. I was trying to be brave and adventurous … until a visit to the doctor early in the trip told us - we are best not being such daredevils if we want to survive our visit to India.
Some nights we slept cushioned in someone’s home or lodge, nestled in the majesty of the Himalayan mountains (Hathipaon, Uttarakhand); some nights we were comforted just by fact that we were sleeping with the AC on, while the rest of the city sweated out with 110’F temps (New Delhi & Jaipur). Sometimes we were awakened by the dust storms of Rajasthan (Jaipur), or we slept in a hotel that continues to be run by the surviving Rajasthani royalty (Udaipur), while on other nights - the cluttered urban din of Pune in our own condominium provided a strange sort of reassurance. Some nights, we simply smiled ourselves silly as the sea breeze brought in welcome salty sprays mixed in with the monsoon from the ocean just a few hundred feet away from our hotel room (Panjim). And there was always home, a place where no matter what happened outside, the walls and the people within – were there to shelter us from whatever happened outside, within reason of course.
A few special moments and days were thanks to the wonderful company and generosity of friends who took us in or made arrangements for us to be taken care of, who fed us with delicious home cooked foods when we were starving, or treated us to a delicious restaurant which was right under our noses - comforted us when we were tired, took us out for a break from our own schedules and let us vent or chill as the circumstances dictated or saved us from our own over enthusiasm.
We missed seeing so many friends we knew, and then, made some new friends we would have never met otherwise. You know who you are .. Thank you for the hugs, tears, kisses and more hugs... thank you for the wonderful moments.
I don’t know when I would be brave enough to repeat this again, but we will if only you promise to be along for the ride.
Photo links to my Facebook albums
Links to Road Maps!
Uttarakhand region (130 miles round trip)
Jaipur region (40 miles round trip)
Udaipur region (250 miles round trip)
Alibag – Pune – Kolhapur (750 miles round trip)
Alibag – Kashid – Mandwa (64 miles round trip)
Alibag – Mumbai (390 miles, including repeat round trips)
Road Trip mileage!
1624 miles, plus multiple short road trips for errands, shopping and such.