It had been 19 years since I’d last been to India. Though I have few regrets in my life, the lapse of time between my last visit, and this recent one, is one of my biggest regrets. I used to believe that the most important thing in life was traveling the world and experiencing other people and cultures, and spending time with family. That everything else should take a backseat. Then I got burdened by graduate school and loans and buying a house in the suburbs and lost track of that vision.
But now that I’ve gone away, I’ll never let that much time pass again.
We arrived in Dehli at 1 AM two Sundays ago at an airport that looked like a high-end mall and had air-conditioning! (It didn’t have air-conditioning when I was last there.) By the time we got back to the hotel (in a van too small for us and our luggage, with an overheated radiator, with three pieces of luggage piled on top without a cord to tie it) it was 4 AM. We all slept until 1 PM. That night the kids woke up at 1 AM to start the day. We struggled to stay awake, but by the second night they were fully adjusted to the time change. (I would get four hours of sleep a night for the next week, until I finally started taking sleeping pills.) The next morning we went on a 5-hour road trip to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. We returned the next day to Dehli for a day of sightseeing and shopping. The next day we flew to Bangalore, my favorite city in India, where we were greeted with temps in the 70s, palm trees, brightly colored flowers.
Bangalore is also where we got to see aunts and uncles, and my cousin who was getting married. (I hadn’t seen him since he was 7!) My kids got to meet and spend time with cousins their own age, and after two days we flew to Chennai, where we caught a bus down to Mahabalipuram, a beach town, for the wedding. Mahabalipuram was so hot we never actually made it out to the beach, but we did spend some time in the gorgeous swimming pool. The wedding was at 6:30 AM the next morning, and we were late only because I was having hotel staff drape me in a sari. But the ceremony was beautiful, and we were fed and fed and fed some of the most delicious Indian food ever.
After one more day in Mahabalipuram, we were back to Chennai and another hotel. We spent that day shopping, then the next day we spent time with family, and began the long trek home.
My older two kids (ages 9 and almost 7) are spectacular travelers. The 3-year old ran away from us in airports, hotel lobbies, in streets toward careening auto rickshaws — let’s just say we had our hands full with her. But she was up for anything and everything, and her ability to never rest and her constant enthusiasm was perfect for two weeks of living out of suitcases and making a new home in a different hotel every 1-2 days.
And now that I know they can handle is, I’ve made a pledge to myself, to my family, that every year will will make a trip out of the country. No matter what. We will see as much of this world as we possibly can.
So I’ve been up since 3 AM today (thank you jet lag, insomnia) posting at least two dozen pictures to this blog post only to have them completely screw up when I previewed the post. New tactic? I’ll just post a few pictures of the trip per day, until I’ve bored you so completely with our travels, you never return to this blog.