A breather pre-India

Before our three months whirl wind trip around India, we were in Greece. I’ve never been interested in touring Europe. Perhaps it was because in school, Asia hardly appeared in the curriculum, and while I was studying art in high school, it was as if only Europeans painted. Maybe my lack of interest in Europe was not overkill, but what I have since discovered—some hidden Asian DNA that had me eager to explore that part of the world (and still does). But when travelling with someone else, there’s always compromise which led us to touch down in Greece.

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The trouble with India

When I first arrived in India, there were aspects that drove me to the end of my tether—the crowds and the music. I’m not referring to the Ravi Shanka sita, bita genre, but the Bolly, Kolly kind that belted out of radios at top volume with those high pitched female squealers. They were enough to drive me to toddy.

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Kovalam Beach

From the tip of India we ventured north to Kovalam Beach in the state of Kerala. Have you ever dreamed of having a tropical beach to yourself? When I arrived at Kovalam Beach in the mid-seventies, that’s exactly what I found. Tourists began flocking to Goa, but Kerala was still under the radar. There was one empty resort on the southern point, and beyond stretched a deserted beach. The surf thumped and sizzled over the sand enticing me into the pristine sea that I shared with no one but my children. 

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At the very tip of India

On the southern most tip of India was Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari. I visited this wind swept pilgrimage destination before the rows of souvenir stalls were constructed. I sheltered under a stone structure erected near the ocean but was interrupted by hawkers selling bottles of sand. Chanting like mantras, they claimed the bottles’ contents came from sand by the three seas—the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean which converged at India’s southern point.

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India’s southern cities

I like the sound of Bangalore and Mysore. Sadly, I remember little about these south Indian cities I visited. My only recollection is asking a man in the street if he knew about a particular institution. What an odd memory to hold when I’m sure these cities had a lot to offer. 

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The Sun Temple of Konrak

We entered the 13th century Odisha complex, and the first image I spied was a wheel that was part of a giant sculptured chariot. I had seen a replica of the wheel duplicated at the entrance to the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi. Beyond the wheel were sculptured people in different sexual positions along the walls. 

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Placid Puri

After a long train journey from Delhi and being inland since leaving Mumbai, I welcomed the ocean. Puri, in Odisha state, wasn’t a large town when we visited. Most hikes we took were over sandy lanes or along the beach that stretched well past the town. But it was relaxing after the buzz of Delhi and Agra where it seemed impossible to avoid crowds.

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My travel diary

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