For most of us, the trips were less about touring the country and more about hanging out with relatives and/or religious pilgrimages. We did both, and both bored me. I wanted to explore and see the country and I didn’t enjoy being uncomfortable on the pilgrimages and then not have the end objective explained to me. I ended up feeling more like an ignored, resentful accessory. I particularly remember being hot while walking in the desert, just wanting something cold and perhaps a treat. But golly, we were on an important pilgrimage! So comfort and enjoyment were not a factor.
I vowed to do things different as an adult. My kids would understand everything that was going on, it would have meaning for them, and they would be comfortable and enjoying themselves. In 2007, when my son, Colin, was nine, I took him on his first trip to India. We toured like crazy, sampling different locales daily on average. It was grueling, and he was the only one to not get sick.
I prepared my son and husband in advance on how the trip would be an adventure and not necessarily relaxing. We would be getting the obligatory “golden triangle” including the Taj Mahal out of the way, since it seemed important to include it in the first sampling tour of India. I advised that once we got a taste of some different places, we could focus on one during a future trip. The plan did work out from this angle – we ended up agreeing that Kerala would be a worthy place of focus in the future.
We would be going from North to South, something I had not done before. My family is from Rajasthan and that was primarily the area I had experience with – a wonderful area that many stereotypical images of India are from. I would be seeing the South for the first time with the rest of my family. I was a fish out of water like them since I could not rely on my functional use of Hindi like in the rest of the country.
We had gone in the Winter, so going towards the Himalayas was not much of an option. We decided on a future trip in the summer when we could go in that direction and visit some mountain towns. It will include my daughter Maya when she is old enough to appreciate where she is and be able to handle the adventure (and us her).