• Main Page
• Why India?
• Driving in India
• Backside Fresh Madam
• No sugar, No change...
• Destination Guides
• Visual Treats
• Travel Tips 'n' Tools
My first winter in India was intense and exciting.
Following the end of my marriage, I was both thrilled to be on my
own and devastated by the sense of loss and rejection.
In the spring I returned to Toronto and worked through the summer.
In early October I set off for India again, knowing only that everything I
had barely begun to explore was waiting for me. Travelling alone on the
big 747 I was filled with apprehension. I was sharply aware of leaving my
family, my Canadian friends and the nice, clean, efficiently run city of
Toronto further and further behind me. And not with a clear idea of what I
was going to.
The long journey finally over, I arrived in India and
"Stepping off the plane into the Indira Gandhi
International airport in Delhi, the first thing I see is a large wooden
statue of the Hindu elephant god, Lord Ganesh. Ganeshji is always invoked
at beginnings - weddings, opening of businesses etc. He is a popular and
benevolent figure, remover of obstacles, bearer of good luck.
As I pass through the immigration area, I notice a faint smell of
mothballs, reminding me of the local custom of placing a few mothballs
over the floor drains in public washrooms. Not a pleasant smell, but it is
an instant, oddly comforting reminder of where I am. Compared to some
other international airports there is a lack of sophistication. Some of
the luggage carts are old and rusted. A boy is on his hands and knees
scrubbing the gray stone floor with a rag. The building materials are
plain and functional. The uniforms worn by airport personnel are khaki
green, looking like hand-me-downs from the second world war. After a long
wait to retrieve my luggage, I find a seat in the large, simply furnished
waiting room and approach a coffee counter.
There is no one behind the counter. I wait, knowing someone will
turn up eventually. After a few minutes, a Sikh man standing near the end
of the counter on the same side that I am says, "What would you like
madam?" "Black coffee" I say. "Sugar?" he says. "No" I say. He relays the
message to someone in a back room. He asks if I am just arriving and I
answer yes, that I have come from Toronto. "Canada" he says, with respect
in his voice. He asks where I will visit in India and I name a few
Three or four cups are handed out. Not mine yet. I see
on the sign that tea and coffee are 10 rupees so while I'm waiting I take
out a 10 rupee note. A thin young fellow comes out and asks "Black coffee,
madam?" "Yes" I say. "With sugar?" "No" I say. In a minute he is back with
a small cup about ¾ full. I hand him the 10 rupee note. He says "One more
rupee madam". I remind him that the sign says 10 rupees. But he seems not
to hear. I take out another 10 rupee note and offer it to him. He waves it
away. "No change. No problem madam."
I walk away with a smile knowing that I am where I belong. What I
love so much about India is all in that transaction. No hurry. Warm
welcome. A friendly level of inconsistency. No need to "do it right". And
I returned to my seat, got out a tissue and my pen dropped onto the
floor. A young man approached, picked it up and handed it to me. "Your pen
madam." Thank you India.