It’s time to wave goodbye to Mother India, after an amazing month here. My last few days have been spent back with the girls at Press Enclave, slopping around the place and enjoying being in a real home again before another couple of months hopping from guesthouse to guesthouse. It’s been fun to spend the holiday (Diwali) period there, but the nights are getting cold in Delhi and the smog is worsened by the firework fumes. I’m ready for Thailand and some clean air, clear ocean waters and the warmth of the sun on my skin (although I’m seem to be cultivating a pot belly due to too much good Indian food, so not sure I’m going to be a pretty sight in a bikini).
Diwali was like a cross between Christmas and Dutch new year. Lots of sweets, money spending, pretty lights and fireworks. I took a walk round the local neighbourhood with Eliza then on to India Gate to photograph the festivities, dodge the fire crackers and choke on the smoke-filled air.
I have mixed emotions about leaving India. On one hand I’m really excited about the next leg of the journey but on the other I’m really sad to move on from this wonderful place. Okay, there have been frustrations, smog, grime, noise, heat, delays, confusion and craziness, but exploring India has been one of the most wonderful adventures of my life. India has been calling my name for a few years now, but the idea of coming here alone was always a little terrifying. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. It was definitely worth it. This place has an intensity that makes it addictive and the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of India burn brightly in my memory. I just know that I will return again and again.
Another reason why India has been so special is due to the amazing people I have met along the way…. in particular my travel buddies Michael, Graeme, Ina, Eliza, Dharini, Huibert, Michal, Ana and the wonderful ashram crew.
My top ten favourite memories of India:
1. Getting goosebumps at the Taj Mahal as I got my first glimpse of it in the misty morning air
2. The crazy bicycle rickshaw ride through Agra during a festival, getting swept along with the dancing crowds and being covered in powdered paint
3. Italian coffee, banana porridge and people-watching every morning at the Honeydew Cafe in Pushkar
4. A night walk back after dinner though the streets of Varanasi, giggling due to adding vodka to our lime sodas under the table, and feeding stray dogs coconut biscuits
5. Meditating on a rock next to the Ganges, wet from a dip in the river, with just the butterflies for company
6. Standing on the rooftop at sunset on my first evening in Udaipur, watching the lights twinkle on the lake and seeing the hawks circle ahead through the pinky sky.
7. Rolling around the floor in fits of laughter during the ‘laughter yoga’ session at the ashram. Not sure what I was laughing at, but it was hilarious.
8. Being rescued by a knight-in-shining-armour motorbike driver in Delhi late one night when I couldn’t get a rickshaw. He drove me and my huge backpack on his bike and dropped me off at my destination, refusing payment. And there was me wondering if I was about to be robbed or murdered!
9. Taking a waterfall shower… I smiled for a long time after I’d dried off.
10. Lying on the floor in the ashram after a yoga session listening to the most beautiful music with tears rolling down my cheeks into my ears.
Goodbye India… you are going to be a hard act to follow! Thailand awaits….