Dear India: It’s not me, it’s you.
Okay, it’s not you either it’s actually a pesky little thing called a visa. Something I know deep down you won’t take to kindly if I was to ignore the stamp in my passport telling me it’s time to leave.
It’s been a strange 6 months to say the least. I could never have dreamed up the surprises you were to deliver. Arriving in Fort Kochi at midnight amongst the smell of the streets which consisted of anything from burning rubbish to delicious street food I was excited and already a little overwhelmed. In the 6 months since, your assault on my senses hasn’t stopped. I’ve been shocked, disgusted, hungry, happy, speechless, frustrated, in fits of laughter but most usually overwhelmed.
While I found you to be amazing in so many ways, it was often the case that you completely polarised your visitors’ opinions, while I loved one place a fellow backpacker hated it and vice versa. This is the kind of diversity that seems to attract so many of us.
From paragliding off the cliffs of Varkala, learning to sculpt in Mamallapuram, exploring the absurd landscapes and ruins of Hampi, riding camels through the deserts of Jaisalmer to hiking the Himalayas of Kashmir it seemed that everywhere I turned a new experience was lurking.
The kindness of the small percentage of your 1.2 billion I’ve had the chance to meet has been amazing and I no longer find it unusual that someone would take the time out of their day to walk me across the city just to make sure I get on my bus safely. Sometimes your eagerness to help went a little too far and on more than one occasion rather than have someone admit they don’t know where something is they’ve pointed me in the completely wrong direction but as with all things it’s the thought that counts.
The food! Well what can I say, it was a long way from the westernised version of Butter Chicken that had kicked off my love of Indian food long ago in fact it couldn’t have been more different but all for the better. Out of all the beautiful meals it will be the thali and masala dosas I miss the most.
It’s simply not a country I could ever hope to discover on one 6 months visa which is evident from the people I met returning for their 3rd or 4th or 15th time. It’s a country where no one, no matter how long they’ve lived or travelled there can confidently say ‘I know India’.
It’s confusing and chaotic and often doesn’t make much sense even to the locals but there’s a charm in that.
With that I will board a plane to Thailand taking comfort in the fact you’re still close by.
Partially Yours Forever,