We knew that the trip would be special…we had been told that by many friends who had traveled to India before us. But we were not prepared for the extremes in all facets of this remarkable country. Unrivaled physical beauty in so many parts of the country, in particular in the state of Kerala, where we spent time in the massive tea plantations in the mountainous country around Munnar, and on the beautiful inland lakes and waterways, and relaxing on the breathtaking secluded white sand beaches of the Arabian Sea. The rural farm countryside was so peaceful; it seemed to bring us back to another era. All this in sharp contrast to the large cities all over the country, where you see unimaginable filth, poverty and pollution.
The socio economic extremes are startling to naive Midwesterners, and omni present. Luxury housing, five star hotels and restaurants on one block, then turn the corner and you find unimaginable squalor and poverty. Everyone in their place we are told, but hard to understand.
In spite of the shortcomings, at least from our perspective, India is a beautiful, dynamic country, and there is certainly evidence of growing economic power, and a surging middle class.
Our trip of course had a dimension most visitors don’t have, by reason of the fact that we had a “home” away from home, living with our son Bob and his family in Bangalore. Bob, Chandra and our two seasoned traveler grandchildren Graycie and Owen were wonderful hosts; opening their home to us, and making us feel so welcome. We had the luxury of traveling for a few days, or weeks, and then we could come “home” to Palm Meadows (a community as close to paradise as you will find anywhere), rest up for a few days, do the laundry, visit with our Indian neighbors, then take off again in another direction for several days of exploring the country.
Because we travelled basically as a family, and tourist traffic was very low because of the economy and the Mumbai incident, there were no crowds, so we often had the opportunity to visit with the locals during our travels; a very special and enlightening experience. There was a keen interest in our new administration in general, and President Obama in particular everywhere we went.
This has been truly the trip of a lifetime for both of us; yes, because India is so special and diverse, but so enhanced by the fact that we had the experience of living there, and being part of the community, even if for such a short while.
Bob and Chandra, we are so grateful for your help and generosity during our stay, and Chandra, we could not have done this without you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making all the travel arrangements. We love you all so much.
We will not soon forget enchanting India… Barbara and Dick