“Why India?” If I had a penny for every time I was asked this question I would be able to afford another trip to India again! My response, of course, is “Why not?” But in all honesty, that is a really simplistic answer, because the reason why I chose India is much more meaningful, as it gives insight into who I truly am as a person.
India creeped its way into my heart when I was a teenager. I was raised in a fairly liberal Catholic family, who encouraged me to explore my curiosity about the world. The first place I turned to for answers were books and pretty soon Barnes & Noble became my mecca. I am not sure, other than it being some karma-related force, why I was at first so strongly drawn to books on India? I loved the spirituality that the entire country seemed to ooze from its pours and the images of the people, the land, and the temples captured my young heart. At the age of fourteen, I developed some major health problems and became frustrated with Western Medicine and its inability to help me. Maybe one day I will go into more depth about this personal subject, however for now I will say it is what led me down the path of Holistic and Natural Medicine and is why I am a Chinese Medicine Doctor today. During my path to recovery, my Mom discovered the extraordinary Deepak Chopra and after we both read some of his books we were inspired to spend a week at his Ayurvedic Clinic in California. It was there that I fell in love with the philosophy of synchronicity and from then on I tried to always be aware of its power in my life. In College, I become even more fascinated by India through some of the classes I was taking and decided half-way through my education to change my major from Biology to Comparative Religious Studies (with a focus on the Asian Religions). I remember spending countless hours learning (and dreaming) about India, since many of the world’s most popular religions originated from there and to understand these religions one needed to understand India. I made a promise then that I would one day visit India.
Fast-forward ten years later. Why had I yet to visit the country? Especially since I pride myself on keeping all of my promises. The problem was that I had always felt that I needed to give India at least a month of my time. I knew that it would be a life-changing experience and I did not want to rush through it. Except a free month of time never materialized itself.
Well, about six months ago my friend Kristen mentioned that she would like to travel with me again. We started thinking about which country to go to and India was mentioned. And then right on cue synchronicity decided to enter the picture with an alluring trip to India offered by Gate 1. It was only eleven days, versus a month, but I would have been a fool to pass up the opportunity!
Six months flew by and the next thing I knew it was the morning of my trip. It was such a surreal feeling that I almost did not feel excited.
Normally, I wait until the very last minute to go to the airport, since security lines are not usually long at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. However, I decided to give myself some extra time to get coffee. Thankfully I did, because as I turned my car on my flat tire warning went off. I jumped out of the car to see if it was true and sure enough one of my tires was completely deflated. Instead of panicking I called my Dad and he quickly came to my rescue. I made it to the airport with just enough time for me to grab a cafe latte from Starbucks and board my flight to JFK.
At JFK, I switched terminals and waiting at my new gate was a smiling Kristen. As we boarded the flight it finally hit me that I was on my way to my dream destination!
The first thing I noticed about Delhi was the intense dry heat. It was near 100 degrees at 6PM! I love hot weather, thus I embraced it. The second thing I noticed was that I did not experience any of things that people warned me about when I left the airport. There was no terrible smell and there were not thousands of begging children. I should have known better to not listen to their fears.
We met up with the rest of our tour group and they all seemed like lovely people. There was even a couple from Charlotte (small world, huh?)! Soon we were in our bus on the way to the hotel.
As soon as we got to the hotel Kristen and I rushed, despite our jetlag, to get ready for our only night out in Delhi. I had contacted a Couchsurfer named Jared prior to the trip and he had offered to take us out.
Jared arrived about an hour later with his equally fabulous girlfriend, Rafaela. They took us to a nightclub about twenty minutes away in New Delhi called Pure where we dined, drank, and danced.
Kristen and I would have loved to have stayed out until the sun came out, alas we had to be up at 6:30AM for our first tour of the trip. Jared and Rafaela kindly drove us back to our hotel around 1AM and on the way we asked them a million questions about India. As I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off into my first slumber in India, I reminded myself to remain open to everything that the incredible country had to offer me and to be present in each moment, as the next ten days would go by way too quickly.