No trip to India is really that quick when you’re traveling from the United States, but I guess a trip of a single week duration is about as quick as it can get. This is just a quick run-through of what I did. I’ll put together a more coherent post about my thoughts this weekend.
I went to India for my friend Daniel’s wedding. The Sangeet (night of singing and dancing before the wedding) and the wedding itself were both so beautiful. Not only was the venue, Le Meridien Hotel New Delhi, lovely, the people in attendance made the whole event so memorable.
Everyone who was there, bride’s side and groom’s, were friendly, welcoming, interesting people who were wonderful to talk to. Within a few hours of being at the hotel I already felt at home with these people. As one guest said during a toast, there was just such a feeling of humanity at that wedding. People had literally come from every corner of the world to attend, all out of their love for the happy couple.
It was definitely the most inspiring and beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended.
After the wedding, I made a quick trip to Jaipur to visit what I would consider my home city in India. I lived there for about 10 months altogether, and just the smell of the city as I left the airport sent me reeling with nostalgia. There were some changes in the city – the gate at the front of the park near Durgapura is finished and painted. The huge, shiny World Trade Park on JLN Marg is finished and in use. When I went to visit the Bhatias, my former host family, I found they had done some serious renovations on their house.
But mostly it’s still the same as it had lived in my mind these past three years. The old city with its crowded bazaars, fruit stands, drum hawkers (why the drums? why?), and cyclists laden with textiles. Raja Park, too, was just the same busy market on the main street with its quiet residential lanes. I even went to the same churiyaan-wala to buy some bracelets for my little cousin.
Old habits came back smooth and easy, as if I had never left. I woke up early and took cold showers. I had tea on the veranda of the hotel I stayed at and dipped Parle G biscuits in it. My biscuit dipping technique wasn’t what is used to be and I lost a few soggy biscuits into the depths of my tea.
Visiting the Bhatias was such a good feeling. I knew I would be happy to see them, but was surprised by the depth of my joy when I walked across their threshold and saw all of them again. Niki has grown up so much, and Palak’s daughter, who I had not yet met, is already almost 3! She has the biggest eyes and longest, cheek-sweeping lashes you ever saw.
We discussed the possibility of Niki doing an internship with my dad’s company next summer, as she’s studying electrical engineering and will be entering her final year of university. The idea seems just perfect to me. The Bhatia family took me in while I studied in Jaipur and made me feel so at home. It would be so wonderful to do the same for their daughter while she works in the US. Of course there is still a lot of red tape to cross, but I will do my best to make it happen for her.
I was honestly sad to see that Ashok and Sumitra had both left the house. They were the hired help when I lived there, and we had honestly grown pretty close by the time I left. I spent many happy afternoons chatting with Sumitra on the roof, and with Ashok while I studied or ate breakfast. They were both kind and curious souls, and wherever they are in the world, I still think of them often and wish them the best.
On my last day in Jaipur I visited the Hawa Mahal quickly in the morning, just to take pictures. The intricacy and geometry of these places never ceases to amaze me. After a quick breakfast with the Bhatias I visited the institute in Bapu Nagar (AIIS) and chatted with my former teachers and the current students for a bit. After lunch there, it was time to head to the airport.
My final night was spent in Delhi. I stayed in Safdarjung Enclave B-7, which for anyone who is interested is in very easy walking distance to Hauz Khas – you just have to cross Deer Park. I was surprised to see actual deer – a lot of them in fact – in Deer Park. I guess I always thought it was just the name.
I wandered Hauz Khas as evening began to fall, and all the lights came on for the restaurants and bars and shops up and down the narrow galis of the village. Before it became dark in earnest, I bought myself some momos and headed back across the park.
It was a good trip.