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(My) Passage To India

it's getting close

sunny 2 °C


There are the mixologists who combine all kinds of booze and juice and other non-alcoholic beverages to create fanciful cocktails ... and then there's Rashmi -- who I've decided is also a mixologist -- only she has a real knack for throwing a bunch of people together, and creating a diverse yet compatible group (which makes me think that the next time I want to meet a guy I should put her in charge.)

The dinner at her house was such a great idea. She invited some folks who had been on previous trips with her and those of us going in December who live here (there's a couple coming from Australia who obviously didn't make it to the dinner -- although if we'd known that CNN could make a hologram of someone and import them from one location to another ...).

And we all got to know each other over a wonderful, home-cooked Indian dinner.

Those who had travelled with Rashmi before couldn't stop raving about her and the trips she'd organized for them. All we heard, over and over again, was what a great time we were going to have. And they all had fabulous and interesting stories to share with us: how challenging it is to get up on a camel, let alone to ride one ... how much the kids in the villages loved the little gifts they brought them ... how blown away we'd be by the opulance of the palace hotels ... how moved we'd be during the evening Aarti prayer on the Ganges in Varanasi, and on and on it went.

One minute we were strangers -- and the next we were united by our common interest in India. It was truly amazing.

I had a chance to talk to everyone going on our trip, too. There's an incredibly bright woman who owns her own IT company and commutes between North Carolina and Toronto ... her cousin who was a teacher and just bubbles over with enthusiasm and energy ... a soft-spoken, really well-travelled bridge instructor ... me ... and Haidee -- a photographer who's originally from South Africa.

It's a great group and I can't wait to really get to know them. I am very glad I decided against going alone. It will be so much better to have people to share these experiences with.

But it gets even better.

Haidee and I have decided to collaborate on a book of this trip --

with her being a photographer and me being a writer it's a natural! In talking to her that night we realized how much we had in common. It's unreal -- and all good!

Now the time is starting to fly by and it's time to decide what I'm taking on the trip. I pare it down and pare it down because I know I plan to shop. I am definitely buying a sari and I know I want several salwar kameez -- and that's just the beginning -- yes, I will be stashing an extra piece of luggage that folds up into a sack in my luggage.

I've done just about everything I can to prepare for this trip. All that's left to do is get my prescriptions ... last minute stuff from the drugstore ... socks ... an extra memory card and a spare battery for my camera ... money ... and, pack.

Even our itinerary is now cast in stone:

We fly to Delhi (through Brussels and spend a couple of days there. Then we go to Agra (Taj Mahal) ... Samode (where we stay in the most beautiful palace hotel -- Samode Palace -- and celebrate New Years -- albeit 10 1/2 hours before you do here) ... Jaipur (pink city and also where we get to ride elephants) ... Bikaner (where we begin our desert adventure) ... Jaisalmer (camel ride) ... Manvar (where we get to stay in tents and watch the sunset over the dunes) ... Jodhpur (yes, maybe I'll even buy some) ... Deogarh ... Udaipur (where we stay in a floating hotel) ... Varanasi ... Khajuraho (think Kama Sutra) ... Mumbai (where the couple from Australia leave us to go home) ... and then on to a week in the South, in Kerala -- we start with an overnight houseboat cruise of the backwaters ... go to Munnar (tea and spice plantations) ... on to Thekkedy (where there is a wild animal reserve, a wonderful Auryvedic Spa and we'll also get some cooking lessons) ... Cochin -- then back to Mumbai for our flight home.

Yes, we will be covering a lot of ground, but I can't wait. There will be lots and lots of pictures -- some you'll see on this blog -- for the rest you will have to endure a slide presentation when I get back home. Maybe I'll bribe you by inviting you to a beautiful Indian meal I will cook for you, with spices I bring home from India!

To those of you who have endured my endless dissertations on India and descriptions of every event that has led up to this journey, thank you for your patience. I can't wait to share my experiences with you -- on this blog and then again "in the flesh".

I hope you enjoy travelling vicariously with me -- and I hope I inspire you to make the journey yourself one day. The next time you hear from me I will be at the airport -- or better yet, in my pod on the plane.

Namaste ...

Posted by a_broad 12:59 Archived in India Tagged preparation

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