This post is long overdue. Over three years overdue, in fact. But this is one of my most cherished travels and I just want to share what I remember about this trip before Alzheimer’s get the better of me. I mean, who knows, right?
Sometime in 2007, I had an opportunity to travel to India to cover one of our company’s training events. It was my first visit and I travelled alone which was scary at first, but being Little Ms. Adventure myself, I welcomed the idea with a great deal of curiosity and anticipation. Nothing beats the high one gets from cross-cultural exposure and allowing oneself to take part and become part of something totally different from what one has gotten accustomed to in her home country. Well, at least, if you’re that sort of person as I understand some people are quite content being cloistered in their little comfort zones. Can’t say I blame them for choosing familiarity over the unknown. Not my thing though.
Anyway, I went to New Delhi first where one of our colleagues was already waiting for me. I arrived late night and found my way out of the bustling International Airport to the taxi queue. Got into a cab and told the cabbie the name of the hotel where I was booked. We had barely covered one half of the federal highway when the car ran out of petrol and I was forced to take a rickshaw the rest of the way. Talk about one of the worst thing that can happen to a foreign traveler, right? With my heart beating so fast I was half-convinced it was going to jump out of my chest at slightest commotion, I called my colleague and kept him on the phone. Every once in a while giving my phone to the rickshaw driver so my colleague can speak to him to give further directions. You see, rickshaw driver didn’t speak English and I, of course, do not speak Hindi. After what seemed like an endless travel and the most earnest recital of all the catholic prayers I have memorized over the years, I arrived at the hotel safe and sound. Well obviously, otherwise, I would not be spamming blogosphere now, wouldn’t I?
As we only had one day in Delhi, my colleagues made sure I take something beautiful out of Delhi and bring it home with me to share with friends. That something beautiful was the RED FORT located in the walled city of what was Old Delhi back then.
Looking at the immense and intricate architectural masterpiece, I couldn’t help but wish that we had something similar – beautiful, culturally-rich and very well-preserved – in the Philippines that perhaps I can also bring my visiting foreign colleagues one day. Thing is, apart from Vigan which I much admit I haven’t gone to yet, I’m not even sure we have anything else.
From Old Delhi, we rented a car which we drove all the way to Chandigarh where we my colleague insisted that we make a quick stop so I can pick up a shirt to trade my tight tanktops for. He said my tanktops were too attention-grabbing and they may not be fit and able enough to protect me from the raging hormones out there. So, uhrm, fine, sleeved shirt it is then.
From Chandigarh, we flew to Punjab where we stayed for one day to facilitate the second leg of the training tour. Punjab, from what I remembered, was a picture of opulence. Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, and BMW, all these European cars are a pretty familiar sight.
My colleagues and I parted ways in Punjab. They both went back to New Delhi while I took the plane to Bhubaneswar where the final leg of the training tour was to be held. Compared to Delhi and Punjab, Bhubaneswar is simpler and more laidback. It was here that I first rode the back of a motorcycle to get to the mall from my hotel.
I had some free time the following morning (training starts late afternoon), so our contact offered to take me to the SUN TEMPLE KONARK in Orissa. Once again, I was bowled over by the beauty and richness of the Indian culture and architecture. The Sun Temple, now a World Heritage Site, was built in granite by King Narasimhadeva-I(AD 1236-1264) and it takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels.
Over all, my India trip was one experience I will always look back on with great fondness. I still remember the smell, the sights, the cacophonous sounds of city traffic, the taste and the feel of all the places I’ve visited and passed. India is indeed Incredible.