We were in Kolkata as Anand wanted to go around the places he was born and grew. One always gets a nostalgic pleasure going down the memory lane. It is more so when there is someone to share the feelings. Anand is in good company of Shannon and Emma. Yamuna and myself were also there accompanying them. We had been witness to those golden days when our trio grew in Kolkata, rather to be specific at Hind Motor. I requested Shannon to pen down her experiences of India visit mentioning specifically what she had expected and what she really found. Here is her first one:
When traveling to another country, you must always have a sense of humor and know that things will not be the same. For instance, eating in a food court in a mall and not finding a trashcan anywhere or being forced to buy a food card in order to buy a drink that is a fraction of the cost of the card. On top of that, you have to pay a surcharge for the card. Really? Or perhaps trying to get an ATM card, called an Instant Card, only to find that once you finally get it, it won’t work for a couple of days. What’s so instant about that?
Puchchu and I are in India staying with his parents. To say it’s a special time would be an understatement. I’ve been to India before, but now I see I really hadn’t been to India. In order to properly experience something, you must stay with family or friends and really “live the life”. Staying with my parent-in-laws has been wonderful…I really love them. They have taken me as their daughter and I really feel I am.
India is working hard on improving life, but for someone who grew up in the west, India is a different world. Right next to beautiful homes are people living in tents or structures of wood that look like playing cards leaning on each other. Trash and dust is everywhere and there is a strong smell of smoke in the air. Your nose hairs feel singed by the end of each day. And yet, no one looks unhappy. Have they found something most of us haven’t figured out? I think so. Happiness comes from inside, not from material wealth. So coming here helps adjust one’s perspective on life and what’s important.
I say all of this and yet there is a charm and beauty about India. The people here are beautiful as they smile and laugh or simply look peaceful. The chaos that abounds on the streets has rhyme and reason to it. You just have to understand the rhythm and be able to engage in the same dance.
We are now in Calcutta and I especially love it. It’s not as modernized as Delhi but I seem to feel more at home. Some of the roads are in horrible condition and trying to drive on them leaves you with sore muscles and frazzled nerves, but you really appreciate your destination once you get there.
The sounds of India are honking horns. That’s the mode of communication on the road. Even on the back of most trucks it says “Horn Please”. The honking is not meant in a negative way, just a friendly way of saying “you are in my way and I’m going to go around you in whatever way I can”. It feels like you are taking your life in your hands when on the road, and yet I’ve never seen an accident. Again, you just need to know the dance.