India has featured in my most vivid travel dreams for as long as I can remember. The dreams that whisk me away from daunting daily realities into a 1001 nights like land, the ones about powerful Rajas and Maharajas, incredibly beautiful forts, royal castles, sacred rivers, fragrant spices, painted elephants, and mysterious snake charmers…
Those dreams are about to come true. That’s right, it’s finally time to go to India.
Soon we’ll be on our way to get our first taste of Hindustani mystique. We are eloping for a week to the infamous Golden Triangle of India for a little bit of chaos, lure, and intense culturing in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Remember my resolution to let Angel chose more of our future holiday destinations? Well, imagine how indebted I am to him right now for deciding to meet me half way.
He has absolutely rejected the idea of India all along; he’s heard the warnings and it petrified him, which is quite understandable, but I am more thrilled that he’s finally ready. Sort of!
By the way, in case you’re sensing that my expectations of India are slightly unfeasible, DO NOT WORRY, I’ve heard the warnings too. In fact, I feel like I’ve heard most of them in the past week alone, since I’ve announced the news to my friends and family.
My sister told me about her college professor who apparently went to India few years ago and saw it only from his hotel room toilet’s window.
The ladies in the office have been working overtime on curbing my enthusiasm. They’ve told me all kinds of horror stories about relatives who starved themselves the whole time in India after having a single look inside their 5 star hotel kitchen.
I know! Why would you do that, Right?
Growing up in the UAE, amidst a culture that’s deeply impacted by historical exchanges with India, has one way or another left its mark on me, and on every Emirati I know. There is no denying that a binding connection achieved through long lasting commercial trading and social relations is reflected through our food, clothes, music, traditions and even language.
Several members of my family are fluent in Hindi, although they’ve never set foot in the country. I’ve picked up by my share of Hindi common phrases by watching enough Bollywood in my early years, which I’m sure will come in handy during this trip.
Angel has been intensively working on his Hindi as well, so far its all coming out of his mouth sounding like “bimberi bimberi bimberi”, but I’m sure he’ll catch up soon.
For that alone I am yearning for an experience that will put things into prospective, i.e. what does Biryani really tastes like when not modified to fit the local taste?
Yes, I know about the Delhi belly, the noise, the pollution, the beggars, the ripoffs, the rape, the horrible traffic, and all that jazz. It’s all over the blogs and in the news. I am still going because in my India dream things happen a little differently; I go, I see, I learn, I tell my very own story…
And of course, we intend to practice travel shrewdness by avoiding sticky situations. We’ll be very careful about what we decide to stick in our mouths, no matter how glossy it looks or how delicious it smells. I promise to at least try…
Do people still come out of nowhere and start dancing to Bollywood music in the streets of India, or has that Indian fantasy long been debunked too?
Preparations have been on full swing over here at “Casa de Angel and Shaikha”. He is stocking up on immunity pills and I have been sleeping with my copy of the Lonely Planet India by the side of the bed for a while.
I’ve revisited my favourite India reads such as Dreaming in Hindi, Midnight’s Children, Eat Pray Love, Life of Pi!, and I’ve added a new title to the list last week, Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald. Not sure the latter was such a good idea; it felt like another warning! I am definitely not suggesting it to Angel until we’ve returned!
What else do you think I should read?
We finally received our visa stamps last week, it didn’t take as long as expected, which is certainly a good start. The surprise was that I was granted a single entry in six months, while Angel seems to be free to come and go as he pleases during those six months! Not sure if it has to do with the recent announcement that UAE nationals will soon receive visit visas to India on arrival.
The weather threatens to be smoky in Delhi (whatever that means), misty in Agra and foggy in Jaipur during our visit. Obviously that’s not the kind of forecast I anticipated, especially in Agra where I wish for nothing to obstruct my perfect views of the Taj Mahal. Something tells me it is going to take more than haze to prevent India from tossing up the unexpected and exasperating in full force at us…
Don’t you just love it when travel dreams come true?