I have travelling genes from my dad. When he was still working for the Indonesian government, he travelled a lot. South Korea, Singapore, India, the Netherlands, you name it. One of the unforgettable experiences I have ever had when travelling with my parents, was the time when we were living in India for several months. Yes, I lived in India when I was 4,5 years old! Since that time I have always some kind of strange bond with that land.
I miss India (blame it on the hormones). India is for me also a home! The smell of spices and meadows early in the morning. The gorgeous sunrise shines through the thousand years old tree. The cows, traffics, crowds, people, dances, temples, the chaos, and food, oh! The food! I love it all.
Why we lived in Roorkee
We lived in the northern part of India, in a small town called Roorkee. My dad was studying at the Indian Institute of Technology, which is the oldest technical institute in Asia. For the last few months of his study my mom and I were allowed to join him. My other siblings were much older than me. They already went to junior high school so they were not allowed to leave school that easily.
That was the very first time I have ever travelled that far. It was a 14 hours flight with a transit in Calcutta (Kolkata). We flew with KLM (Yes I still remember which flight and the experience in that flight and during transit). My mom and I travelled alone. So basically history repeats itself with me and my little red pepper.
In Roorkee we lived in a small student apartments where other students and non-students from various countries lived. I was not the only child there. I made friends with an Indian girl named Banu and an Afghanistan girl named Rabiah. We had the best time of our lives running around the hall ways, playing and dancing to the Bollywood music and sometimes we played at the garden down stairs under a very big tree (at least when I was little, I saw it as a really big tree).
Why I love India
In India I learned that there are so many beliefs in this world. A few of my dad’s friend are Christians. We were once invited for a Christmas dinner, which I found pretty fun, as I received some presents.But it was not a western christmas dinner. It was different a lot more spice and scents.
From my best friend Banu I learned about Hinduism. One day I was very hungry. So, I told Banu that I would like to go home and eat. Banu did not want to go home, so she tagged along with me. At home my mom had rice and dried sweet beef (abon) for me. While I was eating that, I looked at Banu. She seemed to be hungry as well. My mom offered her some rice with vegetables, because she was not sure whether Banu ate meat or not. Banu did not want that, she wanted the same dish as what I was eating. My mom hesitated, but Banu insisted that she has once eaten meat.
So she ate it. At the end of the day she came back home and I told her mom that she has had lunch with us. The next day her mom came to my mom and asked her politely that the next time Banu asked for meat, that my mom should not granted her wish. My mom apologized and told her that she regretted to have given her that. I asked Banu’s mom why was Banu not allowed to eat meat. She answered: it is because Banu is Hindu and in Hinduism they do not eat beef because it is a holy animal.
I asked my dad that day about the Hinduism and the temples that I saw everywhere in India. We went to many of them and I have to admit sometimes It was pretty overwhelming for me. We also went to Varanasi. I think my dad tried to explain about the funeral process there, but I found it (at that time) too difficult to understand. I love the diversity of the beliefs and the colourful festivities they have there.
What I love the most from India and I cannot forget it until now, was the trip to Taj Mahal. For a 4,5 years old me that was magnificent. What a majestic building! I still dream about it once in a while. I guess it is stuck in my long term memories. I remembered how we got there, with a riksja! And how why jaws just literally dropped from awes at the gate when I saw that pale white magnificent building about 500 m from me. “wooooooooooow!” But when I knew that it was a tomb, I got pretty scare.
Nowadays when I am travelling with my little red pepper I share the awes with her. It is a very beautiful moment when you are able to share the wonders of the world with your child. I still remember how she admired the Eiffel Tower the first time she saw it. “Mommy, it is so big! A lot bigger than in the story books! Woooow!” So now I have added some destinations in my bucket list: to go back to Agra with my daughter, see the Taj and wow together with her.