Where’s that pause button…

Life – it’s so fast! We always seem to be chasing something. Wishing days away, not enjoying each moment. Forgetting awesome experiences in our past, as there’s so much automatic focus on things gone bad in the past. I must remind myself to pause, slow down and remember.

Today, I am remembering a time when I was fortunate enough to visit India. Yes, really! INDIA! This may not be on many people’s bucket lists and had I not needed to travel there for work purposes, I don’t think I would have thought of it as a travel destination.

I travelled to India in 2011. That’s 7 years ago & I still dream about my time there. I visited Pune, Agra, Aurangabad, Delhi & passed through Mumbai very briefly. What do I remember most?

The people! Warm, welcoming and so very humble. I’ve made lifelong friends there & had the pleasure of hosting one of them in my hometown – Cape Town. Even while visiting me, they wanted to do everything for me! It’s hard to spoil Indians 😊 There are so many people in India, streets are busy, everywhere you go is always busy. And, yes… TRAFFIC is absolutely crazy, yet it works! I was a passenger on a motorbike & scooter (those folks have street skill on another level!) and I jumped in a few rickshaws.

The food! WOW! Think you’ve eaten the best Indian food from your favourite spot around the corner? Think again! But, I did cheat & have Chinese food & McDonalds while there – ha-ha! Although, they don’t serve beef (as the cow is a sacred animal in the Indian culture) so it was a McChicken something. I ordered a mutton dish and was warned – this is actually goat. I was a bit of a chicken … and chose chicken instead! As I walked the streets, accompanied by someone who is now a lifelong friend (and calls me her South African sister), I saw vendors selling sugar cane from contraptions I’ve never seen before. I drank ginger tea from another vendor, who served it in a plastic bag! It was definitely a learning experience, drinking tea from a bag. Here’s a pic of my first breakfast in India.

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The sights! The very first morning after arriving, having travelled for about 12 hours, I was brave enough to join a group of locals for a river rafting trip. They fetched me at 5am… I almost changed my mind – so glad I did not! It was a bus trip through a very rural landscape, with one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life. We stopped somewhere along the way for breakfast. This was my first culture shock! No coffee? Only tea. Fresh fruit, cereal or fry up breakfast – nope! Curried something. Which, of course I tried & loved! (above breakfast pic)

Once we arrived at the river, the riverbed was dry! There was some miscommunication, as we waited hours for the flood gates to be opened for the water to run through. I was so hot & thirsty, I went into a rural village, desperate for a drink of water. I was given water from a bucket, I gulped it down before hearing one of my hosts caution me to only sip! It was river water, not the freshest or safest. It must have been given to me with a good heart, I survived to tell the tale 😊 Eventually, we could experience the river rafting & after all the rapids, we arrived to a calm location, close to where a dinner was planned for the group. Everyone started jumping out of their rafts & I was so nervous – I cannot swim LOL I remember so clearly, thinking: “when will you ever get another chance to do this” and I jumped! With a life jacket, but I jumped! & floated along with everyone, who by then had nicknamed me “Cape Town” 😀 I should remember this experience more often. I jumped! And I survived & actually loved it. Hmmm, a life lesson perhaps?

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Of course, you cannot visit India without going to the Taj Mahal. What an amazing experience. What an amazing history! I even loved wearing the mandatory shoe covers. I visited many temples & forts, a beautiful garden called Koregaon Park, in Pune. At the theme park, Chokhi Dhani, I watched traditional Indian dancers & rope walkers, sat with a potter as he taught me to make my own clay pot, but the one thing I will never forget, is riding the “Ferris wheel” Once we got on, three boys started jumping in sequence to move the wheel! I thought certainly this was a joke, but it was not! It was a human powered Ferris wheel. Definitely a first for me & I actually felt guilty having fun on it, but they laughed along as they went about their synchronized business.

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Plenty of first time experiences & loads of memories that still make me smile.

Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane. A lovely feeling taking time to pause & remember happiness.

I’d love to hear from you, if you’ve travelled to India, what your experiences have been – or perhaps it is on your bucket list.

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Life before social media…

If you can remember a time before posting online was part of your daily habits, consider yourself lucky. In my opinion we have so many special memories, ones that we remember even without it appearing on a timeline somewhere where strangers get to see it. These are the memories we enjoy, that makes us daydream & giggle quietly, not cringe at the sight of doing something silly (oh my twenties…) or saying something provocative (hey! Let’s just say 20-somethings feel invincible 🙂 )

Today I was remembering having pen pals. Do you remember those? I belonged to an International club and could choose friends from around the world. I chose someone in Mauritius, China, America, Italy and France. I think it’s safe to say that from a young age, I’ve been fascinated with the world and people out there in different countries & cultures. Even with writing… Hmm interesting what you learn about yourself when you reflect.

However, I only remember writing one letter to each of these pen pals. I don’t remember receiving post from them, except from the girl in Mauritius. Good ‘ol postal service… it could just mean the letters got lost in the post, I won’t jump to conclusions that they rejected me… I mean c’mon 😉 😉 Cute little 10year old me from Cape Town, South Africa… hahaha 🙂

I wonder where these “Pen Pals” are now. Do you think it would be creepy to just try & connect with them on social media… LOL I’m cringing just thinking about it. Wait, I’ll have to give this one some more thought before just randomly friend requesting a stranger. How often do I delete such requests myself!

This was a really pleasant trip down memory lane.

As a footnote: I’d like to apologise to my followers for not seeing me active for some time now. I suffered a tragic, sudden & shocking loss in July. My eldest brother passed away. Walked into hospital for treatment on the Monday & closed his eyes the Wednesday evening thereafter. This event reopened very sore emotions having lost my mom, dad & brother before him. Also, just days after writing about my 1st brother who’d passed away. I felt I was making progress with their loss, only to be hit with another.

Needless to say, I was certainly not feeling inspired by much. I always had my little blog in the back of my mind, but didn’t want to only write about death & tragedy. It’s a harsh reality, but not one I want to focus on.

I am still alive and I still want to live. That is important to me.