I’ve been thinking a lot about how to deliver this. India to me is so complex and intricate a part of who and what I am, it almost becomes too personal. But really that’s not why you are here. You are here to taste for yourselves all that India has on offer. Taste being the operative word. It really is only a morsel of what you must go and experience for yourself.
Let me start, not at the start, but part of my way through.
For those of you who don’t know already, India is made up of many different states. Each one as different to each other as every snow flake that falls from the sky. Yet together, they make up the magic of the mother land.
Ever since I was little I dreamt of going to Amritsar. Why? I don’t know. That’s the honest truth. I recall it being a part of many Bollywood movies. The stunning heroine standing gazing into the distance, lip singing to the back drop of the opulent Golden Temple. That’s my first memory of knowing what it even was.
But it’s more than that. It’s a truly sacred and religious place for all Sikhs. Yet in all its splendour and magic, there is pain too. Great and severe pain. Amritsar is a city which has shed many many tears throughout its history. From the time of the British reign to its more modern days. It wasn’t long ago that BBC reported on sword fights at the Golden Temple, sword fights?! Who in this day and age carries a sword?! But isn’t that amazing? I find it amazing. Not that I’m endorsing walking around and fighting with swords, what I’m saying is, in many ways, time has stood still. There’s a certain transcendence of time that occurs when you step into Amritsar. And I mean that in a good way.
Let me start with Day 1. I was in Dehradun prior to Amritsar and like a snake I made my way by night train to Amritsar. Alone.
Alone?! What sort of crazy person travels around India on their own?! Perhaps I had some sort of death wish. Perhaps I was challenging India and all its craziness. Perhaps I wanted to prove to myself that with the right preparation even India, the unconquerable, could be conquered. Perhaps I was just a fool.
Whatever my reasons, as I write this now I think how lucky I was to have survived my 3 months of travelling around India ‘on my own’ (and I use quotation marks on purpose, because for much of the journey I was neither alone, nor did I ever feel lonely).
I write for you excerpts from my journal at the time. It’s been well over a year since I’ve read this. Whatever you do, if you ever travel, make sure you write about it. Because the mind, as clever as it is, will always forget the important things.