India is Grate
Back in 1982, Lora said she’d take me anywhere in the world I wanted to go for my 40th birthday. When I said “India” I discovered that she really meant was “I’ll take you anywhere in the world you want to go as long as it’s Paris.” Paris on my 40th birthday was truly lovely. But it wasn’t India.
It wasn’t until 1994 that I actually got to India. Our son Max was wandering around the subcontinent, and his mother asked him (supposedly unbeknownst to me) to invite me to join him. He did, and we spent a wonderful month together. We traveled in Max’s style, with hotels that cost $1 a night and dinners that cost 75 cents, and he introduced me to the places in India he had discovered.
It took another 13 years for me to visit India again. This time the occasion was our son Sam’s travels in Vietnam and Laos. I offered to meet him in India on his way home. He accepted quickly once I told him that Lora and I would cover all his expenses for the extra month he would be away from a salary.
Finally, in 2010, Lora expressed curiosity about India and suggested that maybe, just maybe, she would like to see what drew me back there. I showed her the places that Max had shown to me 16 years earlier. Even some of the restaurants that could still be found. Like Zorba the Buddha in Agra, where Max had a semolina dessert that he still remembers fondly today. http://zorbarestaurantagra.com/index.htm And 8 July in Jaisalmer, where apple pie like your mother used to make still makes a strange combination with mango lassi. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g297667-d1647914-Reviews-8_July-Jaisalmer_Rajasthan.html
No surprise, Lora became as captivated by the country as I was. Which made it the principal place we visited on our 3 month journey this past winter. And now we’re heading back.
The seed for this visit was a comment by our son Max that he didn’t know if he would ever get back to India. I thought, to myself, “Why not?” I figured that each of the 3 boys might be able to break away from life’s daily demands in January so an email went out them – who wants to join me, all expenses paid? Jonathan, Max and Sam immediately signed on, and 6 other people asked if I would adopt them. So we’re off in a week.
Max and I fly out on the 27th and Jonathan flies in from Taiwan to meet us on the 28th. We head to Agra and then to Lucknow, where Sam joins up with us. Then over to Varanasi, where Lora joins us for several days. Then Jonathan and Max have to head home, Lora goes off to Gujarat with a group of women, and Sam and I head over to Rajasthan so I can show him the places that Max showed me 20 years ago. After Sam heads home I’ll be meeting up Lora for the rest of the trip.
Two things about the trip have me in a high state of curiosity. One is a visit to a small pilgrimage town of Chitrakut in Uttar Pradesh, between Lucknow and Varanasi. Max thought it would an interesting place, perhaps because of the following passage in Lonely Planet about the town’s relationship with the India railway system’s schedule. I’m up for most anything and Jonathan and Sam both said OK. Lonely Planet suggests only two places to stay in Chitrakut, and I picked the better of the two. It has hot water, but only if you want to buy it by the bucket.
The other place of high curiosity is our planned visit with my sister Anne, a Hare Krishna devotee for a few decades. She lives in another pilgrimage town named Vrindavan, near the city of Mathura where Krishna was born. Anne (she has taken the name Vicitra) is an ardent proselytizer so it should be an experience to visit her in the bosom of the Hare Krishna movement. Vrindavan itself looks like an amazing place, and I’ll share with you how the visit goes.