9th January 2009. Just off the plane in Delhi. This was it. All my life I’d wanted to travel and now I’m standing in Delhi airport. Walking outside the exotic smells immediately hit you. The humidity too. It’s January and it’s still 20 degrees.
There are people everywhere. So many people. Herded on to a small bus. Gazing through the window as we move through Delhi. I can see poverty. You hear about it, but to experience it leaves you with a different feeling. The appeals on television at home are all so distant, but now you can actually see it.
A long drive to Agra. There are dogs everywhere. I need cigarettes but I’m scared of the dogs. I don’t want rabies.
Next morning and it’s off to the Taj Mahal. I’m standing in front of one of the most iconic buildings in the world. I am getting somewhere.
This what I had been waiting for all my life. The exotic smells, the exotic people. I was in the land of the Jungle book. There is fear mixed with excitement. I don’t know what to expect. There are elephants and camels on the road. I’m illiterate, I don’t know how to read the script. I can’t communicate with people. They can’t speak English.
Jaipur. It’s warm. The locals are all dressed in wooly jumpers and have ear warmers on. We all have t shirts. They think we’re crazy. Summer in Jaipur can reach 50 degrees. The roads are so busy, cars, tuk tuks, buses, cows. Dogs lie in the middle of the roundabouts.
Time to do some shopping. The streets are narrow and dark but there are shops everywhere. The owners stand outside looking at us. They are wondering what are we doing here. Probably also thinking these people must have money, I need to get them into my shop. I need cigarettes but I’m scared. I can’t speak Hindi. The stares are unnerving me. I approach the shop. I make the movements of someone smoking, the shopkeeper looks at me and says “which kind do you want, sir?”. He speaks English. All worry over nothing.
Back on to the train. It is full of people eating and talking. It’s a social occasion. It makes the long journey easier. The gang of white people attract their attention. Where are you from? Are you married? Why have you come to India? All these questions. I’d never ask people these kind of questions.
The train arrives and the snow capped mountains stand out. The Himalayas. This is the place that dreams are made of. It’s clichéd but I don’t care, this is my dream and I am making it. There are monkeys everywhere. They look cute, harmless. The guide says to leave them alone, they are a nuisance and will bite you.
The Himalayas get closer and closer. We arrive at our house for the next 3 months. I step out on to my balcony. In front of my eyes are two mountains. Both are capped with snow. The sky is a brilliant blue. I’ve made it. I’m doing what I have always dreamed of doing.