Sunday, November 28, 2010

Beautiful India

Taj Mahal - the classic shot (although just a tad crooked).
Someone I know has been traveling to India often for business these days. He is very active on Facebook - posting photos and words to capture his sights and experiences - and he was there recently posting a lot of very funny things. And a work colleague also just returned from India on vacation. Their FB postings have created in me this incredible longing for India that I did not know was there. I am really missing India and wanting to return. I haven't been there since 2006 or 2007 - way too long to be gone.

From 2000-2004 I spent a great deal of My Byway in South Asia, mostly in India, and mostly in New Delhi. Later in 2006 I again spent some significant time there. All for work. I once calculated that during that initial 4-year period I had visited Delhi so many different times that I had been there for some period during every calendar month, thus experiencing all the different weather and holidays. My trips were often for 2 to 4 weeks at a time, with the longest single trip being approximately 3 months. Sometimes during those trips I also traveled to Kathmandu in Nepal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Colombo in Sri Lanka, but the majority of my time was spent in Delhi. I did get to visit a few other places besides Delhi - brief trips to the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Pondicherry, Goa, Calcutta, Dharamsala, Hyderabad - but India for me really equals Delhi.

Back then Delhi really felt like a home away from home. We had a great little project office in Vasant Vihar, with an even greater staff. The staff really were like family to me. I miss them. I knew my way around somewhat to go shopping and out to eat and to meet friends. I did an enormous amount of shopping during those years. Delhi has such beautiful things - fabrics, jewelry, handicrafts. My wardrobe and my home are full of things I bought there. 

I look through my photos and sadly realize I have practically nothing from these times in Delhi. I was hoping to post a few photos here, but the ones I have are not digital and need to be found and scanned. I didn't have a good camera back then and I was also there for work and not site seeing, so I guess I just never got the bug to take photos. I wish I had captured more, but I am grateful I have the memories so strong and clear in my mind - sights, sounds, smells.

Some favorite little things from my times in Delhi...
  • Seeing and hearing the beautiful green wild parakeets that flew around the city. To this day their sound is one of my favorite sounds ever.
  • The beautiful wide, old, tree-lined streets in parts of the city. The gardens. I love that Delhi has so much vegetation and so many parks.
  • Cows wandering in the roads.
  • The sea of cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, etc. that makes up traffic and somehow amazingly works most of the time. Drivers must possess some seriously good depth perception and guts. I could never drive there.
  • In the neighborhood where I stayed sometimes, the men selling water from their pushcarts - the sounds of their voices calling out to announce the pani.
  • The old Ambassador Classic taxis. Love these.
  • The shopping - Fab India, Anokhi...others I no longer recall, but I bet I could find them if I returned. So many beautiful fabrics and clothes and jewelry and shoes and art and handicrafts...sigh.
  • The food. Oh man, the food. I miss it a lot sometimes.
  • Incense.
  • Seeing monkeys running around the city.
  • The beautiful clothing. Just watching streams of people walking by or passing people on the streets - so much beauty, so much color.
I would recommend to everyone that they visit India. It is an experience. And of course it is a huge country with many states and regions and much diversity, so you could go and have a hundred different experiences depending on what part of the country you choose to visit and what you are looking for from a trip. I've seen so little of the country and would love to see more. I look forward to getting back to Delhi someday, to see it again and share that place with my husband, and also to see more of the other parts of big, beautiful India.

I think this was taken outside of our office in Vasant Vihar.

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