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India has always been on my bucket list of places to go. However, the only images of India that I’d ever seen were from American Cinema… I’m sure everyone remembers Slumdog Millionaire? What I knew of India included slums, garbage, chaos, rabid dogs and poverty. Why would anyone want to visit a place like that??? Despite the negative imagery, I still felt compelled to go.
Last year, I started looking for a willing travel companion. Half of my friends had already been to India with no intentions of going back. The other half had zero interest in EVER going. There was only one person left to ask (force) to go with me… my lovely mother. She is the only person that I could coerce into going. She’s the only person who would still love me if they got Delhi Belly (google it).
Now, this is not your normal… roses and sunshine travel post about all the beautiful wonders of India. This is a true story of the real life sh*t that went down while my mother and I were travelling the Golden Triangle.
Getting to India from China is very easy. It’s just a short 5hr flight. But for some asshole reason, I decided to book our flight at 7:30am; knowing that the airport is two hours from my house. We woke up at 3am, bright eyed and bushy tailed to make our way to the airport. At 5:30am, we zombie walked to the check in counter where I was rudely awakened by our flight attendants refusal to hand over our boarding passes. Apparently, even though our visas were electronic, we still needed a printed copy. I tried to reason with the flight attendant, but she wasn’t having it!
We ran around the airport looking for a printer. The business center was closed. I snuck in an airlines back office to see if I could coerce someone to help us. NO! I tried to get the police chief to allow us to use the printer in his office, NO! I even tried to bribe the passport photo booth to take a photo of my visa from my iphone and print it out on a 2’x2’ passport photo… I was desperate! The answer was, “Uummm, errrrrr NO!” After an hour of trying and failing, I quite literally broke down in tears. Because not only did I possibly ruined my vacation, but I may have ruined my mom’s as well. Dejected, we went back to the check in counter… still visa-less.
I was almost reduced to begging on my hands and knees when the flight attendant walked us over to her manager for help. This is the same manager that saw my crocodile tears an hour earlier, but refused to allow us to use her printer. Apparently our lovely flight attendant had some voodoo magic up her sleeve… because she mumbled a few words to the manager… and waaalaaahhh she agreed to print out our visas for us. We made it through security and customs with just in time to board our flight! (fyi, a printed version of your visa is recommended but not absolutely necessary. But if you are travelling from China, they are a stickler for travel rules)
Taking my mother to India was a blessing, but also challenge. India is not for the faint of heart. The energy is break neck. From the minute that we touched down the excitement of being in India lit a fire in us (okay, really just me) that made me want to see everything and go everywhere ASAP.
While I was filled with excitement, my mother was filled with apprehension. She was so nervous that she quite literally worked her stomach into knots. She was afraid to eat, afraid to drink water and basically afraid of her own shadow. As a result of this starvation and anxiety, she couldn’t poop for three days. Now I’ve never had this problem (I eat everything and drink a gallon of water a day) but apparently walking around in 100 degree weather with impacted bowels at 63 years old… is not the most pleasant feeling.
My mother begged me to give her a laxative, which I was really afraid to do; but there was no way that I could allow her to be in pain any longer. So on the third night, my mother downed an entire glass of California Dieter’s tea. I warned her that she may want to stay in the hotel the next day… but my mother’s bowels weren’t the only thing that were hard… apparently so was her head. She stubbornly insisted on taking the tour the next day.
The next day we arrived at Amber Fort sitting high atop a mountain. We were at the bottom of the fort when I spotted…. the Elephants! I plopped my mom on top of the most colorful elephant. While, I was as jolly as a fat kid in a candy story, my mother was not! Unbeknownst to me, she was trying to keep her diarrhea under control. She made a b-line for bathroom as soon as we jumped down. I’m happy to report, that she made it in time! I’m especially happy because we were both wearing ALL white!
On our fourth day, we were just starting to get into the groove of things when we received devastating news from home. One of my first cousins was fatally hit by a truck. For my mother, this particular cousin was more like a son than a nephew. She was devastated. Not only were we 800 miles from the nearest airport… we hadn’t even seen the Taj Mahal yet. We made the hard decision to stick out the rest of the trip. We were very thankful to modern technology and free wifi in our driver’s car. This allowed us to keep in constant contact with family members back home.
The rest of our trip went smoothly. The tragedy of my cousin’s death made us even more determined to enjoy the quality time that we had together. The normal mother daughter bickering lessened and we were much gentler towards one another.
We toured the Taj Mahal and many other gorgeous forts. We went shopping found some beautiful treasures in the market… vintage beaded dresses for $8 anyone? We ventured out on a self-tour of New Delhi in a tuk tuk. And I even convinced my mom to stop eating McDonald's and to try some Indian food.
Despite everything that happened, India is amazing. The architecture is awe inspiring. The people are warm and friendly (I’ve never held so many strangers babies in my life.) And the food alone is worth making the trip. I feel like I may have this first trip may have been doomed…. But that just gives me a good excuse to go back again!