CHRONICLES OF INDIA | PROLOGUE
If life begins at the end of your comfort zone, find out why mine is likely to restart in India.
When 2017 kicked off, I joined every other new-year-new-me, resolution-making, social-media proclaiming folk and posted up my ‘mantra’ for the next 365 days.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing".
- Helen Keller
Helen Keller was not only a wise lady, but a brave lady who certainly lived up to these words. Me, on the other hand, even having the words "daring adventure" come out of my mouth was a dead giveaway that it, and I, was all talk.
But then I went and surprised everyone. This year is going to be far from "nothing". Especially if our next plan - and people's reactions to it - is anything to judge it by.
When I told people about our next adventure, some were stunned with silence, some laughed in my face, some thought they had misheard me, and then there were the odd few that actually got excited.
That next adventure? India. Yup, my journey from McNuggets to McCartney is taking a detour via Mumbai.
In two weeks, we're leaving our comfortable lives, our clean homes, our run-of-the-mill routines and trading it all in for a month discovering a country that is famously chaotic. All 3.287 million km² and 1.3 billion people of it. The only thing that will be a constant between there and here will be the shoes that will still be on our feet when we land and having Tom by my side (and no doubt acting as my personal sherpa – this girl can’t pack light).
India wasn't next on my must-see list. In fact, it wasn’t on there at all. It is a country so different to anywhere I had ever experienced that it had never crossed my mind. When I thought India (prior to doing any research for this trip), I thought of the Taj Mahal, scenes in Slumdog Millionaire, and of course the 'instagram-tinted' view I’d seen thanks to the fashion bloggers I follow - all references from a phone or cinema screen and far from reality. But it was first on Tom's bucket list so we booked tickets.
In the space of thirty days, we will see many sides and sights of India:
Our month in India kicks off in the madness of Mumbai; a two-day baptism of fire
We then head North to explore the different hues of Rajasthan - India's pink, blue, and golden.
Our next stop is Agra to stand in awe, and in front, of the Taj Mahal – what is a trip to India without witnessing this New Wonder of the World?
Five days of some much-needed R&R on the Andaman Islands’ white-sand beaches
From there we venture to Southern India, where instead winding through a city’s backstreets, we will be exploring the backwaters of Kerala by houseboat.
And voilà. Our itinerary is set but I'm purposely not setting any expectations – because apparently you can’t.
I've been told India is a place where we will see the most grande and the most grim coexist in a matter of metres.
Where I will find myself stared at. Not for my ‘beauty’ but my unfamiliarity.
Where I will be constantly stunned, shocked and seduced. Both by the serene and the surreal.
The best advice that I've been given is that no one ever visits India; India allows you to experience it. You will always get to where you want to go, and will get what you want, but it will never happen on your terms or on your timeline. It's a place where you need to completely let go, not even attempt to be in control, and to just be comfortable letting India happen to you - and enjoy every minute of it.
As Neale Donald Walsch said, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone". So it sounds like I can look forward to my life beginning at the end of our Air NZ flight.
Wish me luck, and be sure to follow my adventures on @jambarrett for all of the colours and chaos that will soon be India.