Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent approximately 5 months in total dedicating my reading time to Shantaram, or spent one and a half years working closely with our web development team in India, or maybe as far back as those days spent as a teenager becoming fascinated with the Indian textiles and memorabilia at Camden Market… Whatever it is, there’s something about India. Something drawing me, something that I want to discover (I don’t know what yet?!).
I’ve heard stories of jungles, of mountains, surf and yoga. I’m curious to experience the place in the flesh, not only for what Mother N has to offer but also to feel the chaos and discover if there really is active adventures to be had in this land, delicious foods to savour and unique memories to be made.
The first time
I’ve been here before. On January 16th 2007 (weirdly 11 years to the day), I flew from London Heathrow to Mumbai while my sister was living here as an expat. It was my first time. And I can remember, as my first experience of India (and of Asia in fact!) how it made me feel so confused. A city of hope and dreams – some come true, some dwindle in her hazy sunsets. Extreme wealth against unimaginable poverty. Yet her heart beats on and her people seem happy.
And as I looked out of the airplane window 11 years on, I was overwhelmed with emotion just like the first time… that first time I ever caught a glimpse of Bombay, those big mountains surrounding the city, Lego block high rises protruding into the hazy sky, before eventually surrendering to the ocean. It was when the Emirates flight came into land on January 17th 2007 that I felt that exact same well of emotion inside. The opening of Slumdog Millionaire represents so perfectly if you’ve seen it – expanse upon expanse upon expanse of slums.
The feeling of being entirely overwhelmed as I witness the heart and soul of India that has gone into constructing every house, perched every corrugated iron roof on stilts and slung every swathe of fabric. It’s the India that the people of India has made. And there’s nothing quite like it the first time you see it. Turns out the second time, the feeling is just as strong.
It’s only taken me 11 years to pluck up the courage to come back, this time with my soul mate by my side. India, we’re ready to feel you, taste you, and experience you with all our hearts.
I’ve eaten more curry in the last 48 hours than in the last 6 months.
It’s hot, like 33 degrees celcius hot.
Is there a competition for who can beep their horn the longest and loudest?
The jam tastes like bubblegum. I’m yet to find out if this is an isolated occasion or if it’s actually how jam across India tastes.
Be sure to follow the journey on Instagram @tannedtonedtravelled and like the Tanned, Toned & Travelled Facebook page so as not to miss any of the action.
Have you been to India… what did you think? I’d love to know!
Feel free to drop a comment below and we can get excited about all things India together.