Last month I went back to India. After a year of being videsh, I had a very good time meeting my family and friends. Using all my accumulated air miles I decided to pay my friends scattered over the country a visit. Needless to say moving around between 6 cities has left me with a lot of memories and thoughts that are to many to condense.
It was certainly a refreshing experience. Being away for a while allowed me to notice things that I might have been glossing over when I all I knew was the Indian way of life. More so, the feeling of being connected, the feeling of return, the refreshing of memories and habits. All of this helped me take a break from my life in Sweden. This vacation was an important space for me to continue pondering my life in the most comforting background of love, good food and no deadlines.
I visited my father at work and took some pictures of ancient Indian art on display outside though the galleries inside are ofcourse very extensive.
I also visited the temple. In India one tends to find the best sweets being produced near temples since nothing less will do when offering to the gods. In any case I like the calm, reverent atmosphere and the tasty laddu.
I was often so invovled that I couldn’t get the pictures myself sometimes, I will shamelessly use google to replace such,
Awadh is the historical region that comprises of the southern half of my state. Centered around cities like Lucknow and Allahabad, the culture of this region flourished in the 19th century. Some of most iconic and exquisite dishes of northern India originate here and Awadhi cuisine has always been close to my heart.
I specially enjoyed a meal of Galouti kebabs & Mughlai Paratha, Handi chicken and Biryani at a famous restraunt in Lucknow, Dastarkhwan. In Lucknow I also visited the city’s historical spots.
Moving on I went to Delhi, the national capital where I had some good times with my friends was reunited with my beloved after a year. As we moved around the usual spots I started wondering about how the intesity of life is increased in India simply by the hustle-bustle, the shiny boards that cover buildings entirely, the variety of sounds and smells one might encounter.
I also had the opportunity to stay near Delhi University’s north campus. The sprawling student area has many of India’s best colleges and a huge student community that lends a distinct youthful character to the area. While it may not be a tourist spot, it is definitely an area to visit to get a feel of how the younger generation lives. I personally studied in a rather far flung place. Specially intriguing was the Ridge. I never knew of its existence before.
Before long, I moved on to Bombay where I was finally hit by the monsoons. The day I landed rain lashed from a darkened sky. I saw people on bikes covered head to toe in plastic zooming under the rain, of peddlers at work even as people frantically scattered to their homes. I took a short visit to Pune through Lonavla with my brother. Driving down the Pune-Mumbai expressway munching on daal pakodas, I was memmerized by the intense natural beauty. It seemed as though the hills were covered with green frosting.
Compared to the north the temperature was cooler and the rain constant. After the humidity and heat of the north, this was a welcome release.
Back in Mumbai, I visited the Jehangir Art Gallery where my father was overseeing an exhibition. It was in south Bombay, colloquially sobo, that I realised that despite India’s ancient heritage, very little can be seen today. While we have preserved many monuments and art, our cities and lives very rarely interact with our heritage. Unlike europe where cities are a living reminder of times gone by, India perhaps doesn’t have the same luxury. On the other hand, I noticed that old parts of all cities still have buildings built in the ornate styles of the past, they just get subdued.
On the last leg of my journey, I visited Bangalore. Though I could only stay for a day I got to meet my good friends. Bangalore if often seen as India’s version of silicon valley and indeed some of my friends are also engaged in making the world a better place.
Towards the end I was feeling a bit despondant, I had grown accustomed to the excitement of meeting people and going to places but all good things end. Soon I found myself on a flight bound for Stockholm and after a gruelling journey involving not sleeping for 28 hours I came back.
As the plane headed towards Arlanda, I saw tiny islands scattered near the coast, forested landscapes and bright fields of wheat (possibly?). As I came out, I was greeted by the typical smell of coffee and cigarettes that pervades this place.
I soon found myself getting amazed by the greenery, the cool fresh wind and the bright days all over again. Going on vacations is great I feel, it has made me appreciate the nice things everywhere!