I feel as if I left a piece of my heart in Africa. So touched and humbled by the people that make the continent so adorable, a tiny piece of me is left with them.
In the same vain I feel that India has shaped my soul - making me question my life, my aspirations for my future and appreciate all those I love so dearly .
I realise these are bold statements - romantic and roll of the tongue onto screen oh so easily, to paint a great travel ‘journey’ when this chapter of my life is over. But I mean what I write, I honestly do.
Each child we met so keen to learn yet forced to work to earn enough rupees to feed their family made me appreciate how incredible my own education was, and how fortunate I am to have had a Father who always encouraged me to be the best I could be - even if that meant forcing me out of bed on Saturday mornings for swimming lessons. The young people we spoke to who had secret girlfriends / boyfriends because their parents had already lined up a partner for marriage made me grateful I have the freedom to fall in love and spend my life with who I choose, without pressure to consult my family about my decisions.
The importance of family within Indian culture made me want to spend more time with my parents and sisters - realising I have a friendship with each of them detached from simply being “family”.
My ideas about religion have been streamlined by learning about Hinduism - something that has confused & fascinated me from the romantic symbolism of camels to worshipping a baby with an elephants head.
I am so thankful we came here. I feel as if I am leaving a place that I have only just been introduced to behind … We have had our first date, flirted , winked and smiled - leaving only desperate to return to uncover more of its secrets.
I never expected India, or travelling in general, to be such an education. I learn something new everyday and feel I have gained skills I will use for the rest of my life.
Travelling allows you to wake up everyday and be grateful of life - grateful that you are living your dream and to realise that in reality it was more than you ever expected it to be.
The whole experience has been a heady and intoxicating flurry of : colour: - fuscia pinks, glimmering golds, turquoise blues, emerald greens and deep Rajasthani reds, animals: sacred cows, painted elephants, cheeky monkeys, stray dogs and bleeting goats, food: paneer cheese, chapati, iced coffee, masala chai, and delicious fruit Lassis, and of course people : sweet and generous Indian families who made us welcome in their homes, Indian men who would shamelessly stare, young Indian girls so interested in Western life and fashion and other travellers who shared the same passion for India that we have both discovered.
I will miss the sweltering streets, honking horns, sweet and spicy smelling air, endearing head shake, romantic beautiful buildings, treasure trove shops, burning incense, constant haggling, extravagant fashions, sweet afternoon Chai, glittering jewellery and mouthwatering food so much, yet know this is a place to which I will most definitely return.
I would not believe all India was, is and will be had I not seen it with my own eyes. It has exhausted, stretched and challenged every cell in my body , assaulted my senses and shaken me alive again.
India , I thank you.