Memorable moments, both good and bad, are just about guaranteed when travelling in India. One of my worst moments was being in the big traffic circle in New Delhi called Connaught Place and unable to get across the street for the traffic is horrendous. I was not keen to use the underground passage because it was filled with beggars and stinking of urine. I was desperate to get out of the circle and find a hotel room for the one I’d reserved had been given to someone else. I was feeling mighty low when a beggar threw shit on my sandal and chased after me demanding money to take the shit off. The gesture empowered me and I found a way out of there—far beyond the traffic circle and indeed to Haridwar, one of the most sacred sites in India.
My arrival in India would have been difficult but a couple of people gave me a hand. My flight leaving Delhi was delayed because of incoming fog but an airport attendant picked up my suitcase and got me the last seat on a departing plane, saying, ‘Half my family lives in Canada’. Even so, I arrived in Cochin two hours late but the driver was there with a smile on his face and my name on a sign. It was a great way to start the journey.
I smile each time I think of my stay in Ooty, a former British hill station. It was cold and a rugged manservant dressed in black asked if I’d like a fire in my room. “Yes, of course,” I said. He made the fire and then returned a short while later with a hot water bottle and I felt like a princess falling asleep in my ‘Jewel in the Crown’ movie setting.
By Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses 2010