India: Mar 2006
I was told to go to my room. “It isn’t safe for a girl alone during Holi,” the manager insisted and wasn’t letting me leave to explore or have any fun. After a few failed attempts to sneak out, I ended up in my room with the television on, watching Holi second-hand even though I’d traveled half-way across the globe to be there in person.
Firstly, I was grateful, albeit amused, that the hotel manager made it his job to look out for my well-being. Secondly, I was insulted at being treated like a child just because I am a woman and not a man.
This was my most memorable impression of India, a bit of ying and yang. Other impressions were more clearly one or the other. I loved the way spirituality is woven through all aspects of life here, but hated the poverty and incessant begging in the streets. I loved seeing their history come alive, but hated the tour guides competing for my money. I loved driving in an auto-rickshaw, but hated the pollution. I loved the excitement, but got tired from the constant noise. It’s the feeling that anything can happen that makes India so exciting to visit, and the warm welcoming people who make you want to return again.
It’s been twelve years this month since I visited India and my college friend, Mehr. I actually can’t believe I’ve managed to stay away from a country I fell head over heels in love with for so long. I guess it’s time to start planning my return.