Back to India / 05.01.13

It was the end of the hot season in June 2010 and I was exhausted after a day of last-minute shopping and haggling in the dry Delhi heat. A man sitting in a plastic chair asked me for a minute of my time. I had seen him in the exact same place when I arrived six weeks earlier. It was a trap. It was my last day in India before returning home to the US, so I SHOULD have known better to fall into it, but I was weak and plopped down in the seat next to him.
“I’m not giving you any money.” I declared.
“I just want to look at your hand.” He insisted. After a few questions he scribbled some numbers on a small piece of paper. “Yes. Long life. Happy life. Ve’ddy happy. Good love. Ve’ddy good love.” he paused and released my hand “You have good heart, but you are too hard on yourself.” I faked a smile.
“Sure, a nice generic answer that anyone wants to hear.” I told myself.
“You want to know when you be back in India?”
“Yeah.” I tried to withhold my curiosity/excitement.
“You be back- 2012,” I looked up at him and met his eyes “with your man!”


Self-fulfilling prophesy or not, I find myself in southern India and the year is 2012. To make the story even more bizarre, we are on a freakish looking tandem, or “double cycle” as they call it here.

India is a special place. Some call it “spiritual,” others say “in-your-face.” It’s not a vacation, it’s an experience. On bicycle, you are vulnerable and experience India full-force- there isn’t much hiding from it. But that’s the beauty of it too.

A school girl with pigtails gently pinched the skin on my hand to see if it was real. A boy pointed to the freckles on my arms and asked what they were. It didn’t take long for us to realize that it’s different here and we were different too.

In Europe we experienced pleasant weather and traveled comfortably on quaint country roads. The food and the people weren’t all that different from home. Cycling in India is a whole ‘nother ball game. The 90-degree heat, the constant honking of horns, the terrible road condition (in some areas), the frustrations of mis-communication test one’s patience and endurance. I need three basic things to make me feel healthy: good sleep, a little privacy/alone time, and fresh vegetables- three things I can’t seem to get here!

India is exhausting, but it is also rewarding. From what we’ve experienced so far, the people in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are very friendly, smiley and kind. Nearly every person seems to wave, smile and shout “HELLO!” as we pass by. The scenery in the south is breathtaking and the bright colors of houses and saris enhance the visual beauty.

We’ve met some very generous and hospitable people here too. When we were losing light fast and had nowhere to sleep, Sister Carolyn gently greeted us and invited us to stay in one of their rooms for the night without any questions asked. The next day, C Greegia and Ani stopped us on the road, gave us each a coconut milk and insisted that we stay at their remote lakeside home. They cooked us delicious meals and extended the invitation for us to stay with their two sweet boys through Christmas. We reluctantly declined- as we need to make it to Chennai by mid-January. We exchanged addresses and hope to see them again.

It is these experiences that keep us going here. And it is these experiences that keep me coming back to India.


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  1. Netzy said on January 6, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Love your comments and insights-you are so perceptive! Happy traveling.

  2. husband said on January 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I’m the man. :) I think we’re caught up in something

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