by Doreen Jonas
If I were a poet, I might do justice in describing what a truly beautiful country India is; the country that evokes so many fond memories and which, like a Mother with outstretched arms, welcomes me back with old familiar sights, sounds and smells till I feel I’m returning HOME. Here, as youngsters, we felt not a care in the world, and we thought our parents too, had no problems. It mattered little if a purse was empty, when our hearts were overflowing with warmth and love engendered by Mother India.
It had been 16 years, since we last returned, so there was much to see and do. Our daughter suggested we should join the Intrepid Golden Triangle Tour, taking in Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. I highly recommend this well organised tour, as one gets to feel part of a small family which did things together and cared for the safety, needs and comfort of its members.
We visited many palaces, forts and temples, but the truly outstanding experience was our visit to the Taj Mahal. The marble construction was cold to the touch, but as I entered I felt a sublime peace, an almost spiritual experience. My only gripe is that as overseas tourists we paid an entrance fee of Rs 750 compared with Rs 20 for indigenous visitors. This high imbalance applied also to other tourist spots.
Now, if you are a first time visitor to India, a whisper in your ear: “Ignore all street vendors.” If you show the SLIGHTEST recognition they will pester you everywhere, day and night. And if you can close one nostril, see from half opened eyes, and shut one ear – you will enhance your holiday. Don’t forget to drink only Bisleri bottled water, though they say this is just purified Ganges water…(smile)
At Chennai (or Madras) we went to Fort St. George and the Museum, a MUST for all Anglo-Indians. Here, for many of us, our ancestors first came to India [associated with] the East India Company or the British Army. Madras is where I lived, worked, married, and gave birth to our first child, Charmaine. This time round…it was where I put on “excess baggage” eating like a starving peasant – Oh, for that tender coconut again!!
In Hyderabad we went to the “Sight & Sound Show” at the Golconda Fort. It was brilliant and eerie at the same time. If you want pearls, this is the place to shop; and another tip – members of the Defense Forces get a discount of 50%! We took a peek at the Nizams jewels…Fabulous emeralds, rubies and diamonds, and superb craftsmanship! If I should decide to settle again in India, Hyderabad would be my choice. I just loved the open spaces and greenery, but also the fine buildings. They say it will be the next “Singapore.”
Bangalore was enchanting and the weather just right. We mainly did our shopping here and visited Lal Bagh and Cubbon Park. At the Railway Station we stood for over an hour to make a booking, only to find it was the wrong queue; apparently a head shake from side to side might mean “Yes” or “No.”
Would love to say more but time and space do not permit. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in dear old India, even though some things did not please. But just as one would never criticize Mother, we kept silent and paid our respects.
INDIA, to me you will always be my “other” home.
©Copyright 2003, Doreen Jonas