Monday, February 28, 2011

India - Part 1: The People You Meet

You never know who you're going to meet, where you'll meet them, or how much of an impact they'll have on your life. You can't plan out those moments where you know this is where you were meant to be and this is who you were meant to be with. Those things are unknown, and for that reason, that much more spectacular when they happen. This was what happened to me.

Last year I decided I was going to go to India as soon as possible. How or when did not matter, I just had to get there. Then four months ago I received my monthly Budget Travel magazine and saw an amazing deal for a trip to India. I knew I had to go. It was now or never. In my mind I had already booked it and was there. I was ready. In reality I was still thinking through my paranoia of going half way around the world, all by myself, on vacation for the first time all by myself, to a place where I could potentially get malaria and many other things that could kill me, in winter. Those thoughts didn't stop me. Once I make my mind up on something, no matter what the obstacle, I find a way. So, I booked it, freaked out for a good 24 hrs, and then came to peace with my decision, the decision I really had no other choice to make since it was exactly where I knew I was supposed to be.

When I booked the trip the travel agent, Laura, told me that usually 16 people were on it so I wouldn't be alone and would meet a lot of nice people. I also had the option of either getting my very own hotel room or booking with another single lady, if another single lady happened to be going. I told Laura to keep me posted as I was good either way. I was literally packing my bags for the trip when I got the email that someone had signed up and I now would be sharing a room. I was nervous, but decided if I could go to India alone then I could certainly make a new friend and share a bathroom with them for a few days.

To get to India it takes me a good, long 19 hours. The plane was oddly empty and I had a seat in-between myself and another passenger. We made small talk and I realized instantly that I liked this woman. She was kind to me the entire trip and even saved me from a killer headache half way through the ride. I secretly hoped she was my roommate. When we arrived in India I realized she was headed the other direction and said my goodbyes to her. I hopped off the plane and got my very first glimpse of India. It was...foggy. I mean very, serioulsy, cannot-see-a-thing foggy. I was thrilled none the less.

I made my way to the meet and greet section to find my trip advisor. I don't speak Hindi, aside from some yoga words that, if used, would only make him wonder why I was talking about cranes, triangles and trees, so I was a little nervous. It turns out, however, that he would do all the talking for me. He told me all about his life, where he worked (coincidentally we both worked for the same company at one point), all of the jobs he had previously had, and gave me his best American and British accents. I was not bored for one moment. While he was talking I was watching the evening obstacles of India and fog pass me by.

First of all, let it be known that there is no place in the world, with no drivers in the world, that drive the way they do in India. They have normal streets, mind you, with lane lines and all, but no one follows them. On any given two lane road there will be about 6 lanes of traffic, all going in whatever direction they see fit, with bikes, camels, and the occasional elephant. There is no rhyme or reason but it works for them amazingly well.

We arrived at my hotel room and they told me my roommate, Sunita, had already checked in. They then also told me the other two people in the group would be arriving late that night and that our tour guide would get us in the morning. Four people and a tour guide. I was shocked! Not once had it occurred to me that I could potentially be going on a tour alone or even with such a small group. Aside from having a roommate I was actually planning on being a loner on this trip. You know, quiet time with deep thoughts on life and several good books. I guess I would be buddying up with my little group instead. I got upstairs and tried to not wake up Sunita as it was very late in the evening already. She ended up stirring and we met. Instantly I knew I liked her. She had an amazing personality, was fun, and was also a wealth of knowledge on all things India related. We ended up staying up very late and talking about everything, from work to families to why we planned the trip. We worked out our wake up schedules, decided when we would go eat breakfast and even talked about movies we would maybe try and watch. The Big Man upstairs had done an excellent job picking her for me and I absolutely loved her!

In the morning we went down for breakfast, talked a little more and then met our traveling companions, Tony and Mary. From the moment I met Mary I knew I would love her. For one thing, I happen to love Asians more than the average person. I know that sounds odd but I have a "sister" who is Asian and I love her, her whole family, her culture, her cooking, everything. I even want to adopt a little Asian baby one day. I'm certain in some past life (that I'm not certain I actually had) that I was Asian. Anyway...Mary was a little ball of fire. She was so full of life and energy! Again I had that feeling that I had just met someone I could be friends with forever. Tony was equally as great, more quiet at first, until he got to talking about all of his exciting travel adventures. Even our tour guide, Raj, was pretty amazing. All in all our little group was more than what I could have asked for, better than I could have planned, and exactly what I needed for my little adventure in India.

The Happy Travellers

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