I travelled to India to visit some of the people we talk to often, and work with, but have never met. My sister Sian came with me and after a lot of last minute excited planning we set off.
We flew to Ahmedabad in northern India in the state of Gujarat. We had lots of advice such as…….. look very confident, arrange a car to pick us up from the airport, clean your teeth in bottled water, the traffic and noise will be enormous, the poverty will hit you.
But nothing prepared us for the experience. It really was not a cliché to say it was another world. But what an exciting world. We had a wonderful, life changing time.
We stayed at first in a modern hotel which had great facilities with helpful courteous staff. The Lemon Tree Hotel. It was very western in appearance although the food was of course Indian and excellent. Maybe it was because we were two women travelling alone, or maybe our age (not young), or that we were very “fair” Europeans, but what ever the reason we caused so much interest wherever we went. Throughout our entire trip the outstanding memory I have is the kindness, interest and friendliness of the people we met. This was without exception.
At first I was like a child. I walked to the gates of the hotel and took a little brave step out onto the pavement. Just for a minute. The traffic, the horns, the camels pulling carts, the rickshaw drivers and all in a mad, mad swirl of hubbub and noise. Because we were not in a tourist area we got the full impact of a busy, intent, city with people at work. I went back inside the hotel. I have travelled to many countries Canada, Argentina, America, and many European destinations but nothing like this wonderful scary intriguing India. The guidebooks said Ahmedabad was dirty, noisy with not much reason to visit. The guidebooks were wrong, it was daunting but we would not have changed it for the world.