Mevrouw T, a dyed-in-the-wool Bollywood fan, has always been keen to go to India. I’ve been daunted by the whole idea.
It’s not the heat, the crowds, the chaos, the red tape, the poverty and the potential diarrhoea that have condemned India to my ‘too hard’ basket. We’ve experienced those in other parts of the world. It’s the sheer size of the country and the range of travel options in India that have left me not knowing where to start.
But next week we’ll be dipping our toes into Indian waters and hoping they don’t dissolve.
‘Confronting’ is the word everybody uses, before raving about how their trip to India changed their life. I’m reasonably happy with my life the way it is. I don’t particularly need it remodelled. I’m not looking for a spiritual experience to give it new meaning. People we know who’ve found enlightenment in India usually return to normal hazy dullness and switch back to western clothes within a few months.
But as a friend who’s lived there told us, ‘Every single day you see something amazing.’ That sounds worth doing.
So we’re going. We’ve put in some preparation for the trip. Lonely Planet India is ripped into bite-sized chunks. I’ve downloaded some Indian novels. They’re such long ones the Kindle is looking a little fatter. The road to India is paved with good intentions.
We’ve filled in a lot of forms, queued for the visas, charged the camera batteries and stocked up on mosquito repellent and stomach-bug tablets.
I’ve got myself a short haircut and had a troublesome wisdom tooth pulled. Maybe if I’d waited till next week I could have got both done simultaneously on a street corner in Mumbai, while a tailor measured me for a suit with extra pair of trousers at very reasonable price to you sir.
The centrepiece of our adventure will be riding on the Maharajas Express, an eight-day, seven-night train journey from Mumbai to Delhi, stopping off at various sites and sights (yes, of course the Taj Mahal is one) along the way.
We’ve been assured we’ll have seats and won’t have to cling to the roof.
It sounds terrific and will no doubt fill this blog for some time. More soon. Meanwhile, all general sub-continental travel advice and suggestions of things to see, do or avoid in Mumbai will be gratefully accepted.
For further information on the rail itinerary, click HERE.