Jottings from My Indian Diary – A Grand Kaleidoscope

Now when he returned to India, it was not to see the sights, he already knew them- they were imprinted upon his heart – but to imbibe them, savour them, nourish himself upon them.

– from Diamond Dust by Anita Desai

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We have been back from our five week trip to India for over two months and part of me yearns for the chaos and clamour, the wonderful insouciant cows, the street stalls, auto rickshaws, gods, animals and most of all the people. Our journey took us from north to south – from the spendid Taj Mahal and the fabulous forts and palaces of Rajasthan to the mystical and magnificent temples of Tamil Nadu.

We lazed on the beaches of Goa, bargained in bazaars, floated in a houseboat on the Allepey backwaters and entered the world of the British Raj as we sipped delicious tea in the hill station of Munnar. We rickshawed through the bustling zany bedlam of Chandini Chowk in Old Delhi, dined beside the Lake Palace in Udaipur, sampled luscious French pastry and chocolate in Pondicherry, sniffed fragrant hessian bags of spices in Cochin and had a quiet moment of reflection at Gandhi’s cremation place (scattered with marigold mandalas and lit by an eternal flame) in Delhi.

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At every turn in India, there is something amazing, glorious, joyful and terrible. Monkeys, beggars, priests, snacks sizzling on makeshift stoves, children cartwheeling in front of traffic for a handful of coins and the clatter and jangle of every kind of human activity. Weirdly, I feel like I belong in this hectic, shambolic yet bewilderingly ordered world. I feel like a tiny shard of glass in a grand kaleidoscope. Locals recognise my Indian face and can even identify my Gujerati origins but are bamboozled by my Australian voice.

Now I dream of gorgeous flower garlands, vibrant saris, the sound of car horns, huge eyed children, women dipping pots in rivers, painted elephants, anklets and bangles. India caught us in its warm embrace and we are sad that we have left its arms.

© Anita Patel, 2015

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