Dear faithful followers, cheerleaders and naysayers alike, it is nearly time for takeoff. We begin our 738139495 hour journey in nine short days. Our personal Passage to India (minus the beautiful 1924 clothing and British oppression) is finally upon us. Typhoid vaccines are being ingested and my left arm still hurts from a tetanus shot. Reservations are reserved as are some of my opinions since we are going to be visiting with my in-laws. Just kidding! They are lovely people and I’m looking forward to seeing all 150 of them at a party on Christmas Eve. Yes, 150. You won’t be able to miss me in the crowd. For once, I shall truly be “the fairest of them all”. #whitegirlproblems #sarinotsorry
“So, Memsahib, how goes the battle of the belt?”, you may ask. There are inches to spare and I am no longer insisting that Raj sit next to me so I can encroach on his leftover seating. Phew. I know, I know. You are thinking, “But this is for your health!” Okay, butt (which is much smaller, BTW) my mental health in a metal tube hurtling through the sky is just as critical as my cardiac condition right now, and both are much improved, thank you very much. I am bound and determined to resist the rice, say no to the naan, swear off the sweets and tango with the tandoori.
Lest you think this trip is all about the chai and samosas, it is actually so much more than that. We are visiting relatives, there will be the obligatory photo at the Taj, we are probably hopping on a camel or elephant, wandering through the bazaars and the bizarre. The real journey here is not my weight loss or the miles to be traversed. It has been fun to find the humor in my every day battle but our kids’ exploration of the other half of who they are is the real trip we are about to embark upon. They are both awakening to the side of their heritage that is thousands of years old, completely different from the instant gratification of America, and they will be seeing true poverty up close and uncomfortably personal. The colors, the smells, the sights and the sounds of India are cliches of every Fodor or Lonely Planet guide but there is truth in the maxim that it is “a study in contrasts”. Full immersion in India, when you experience it as a family member and not from the comfort of a five star hotel, overwhelms the senses. Some of this trip may be difficult for them physically and psychologically, and like all true learning there is bound to be pain with their growth. How very thankful I am to share these moments with them. I can’t wait to see their faces, hear their thoughts, and see India for the first time again through their eyes. I “found myself” there in 1988 and am so looking forward to walking beside them as they discover new parts of themselves. Oh, and then there is the ilish maach. Kolkata has some amazing fish dishes. We’ll be exploring those, too. Namaste, my friends.