what i miss about India

Well this was meant to be a post entitled “What I will miss about India” but I never got round to writing it while I was still there. So now that I’ve been back in South Africa for 2.5 weeks, I’m no longer predicting what I think I will miss but can report on what it is that I actually miss, and I’m limiting myself to five things…

1. Autos (as in auto rickshaws). They are loud, dangerous and the most convenient thing ever for getting to wherever you want to go whenever you want to go (as long as you have a fairly good sense of humour about having to argue for a fair fee often which is fun in and of itself). Some of my best memories of India are in autos. Staring out quietly from a speeding auto with the wind gushing though one open end to other. Late night rides in pimped out autos with blingy disco lights, piled four people in a three-man auto laughing our heads off and mimicking the honking of all the cars around us. Surprisingly coherent conversations yelled from one person to another through the engine din and swirling hair. And of drivers, some stoic, some downright sneaky buggers and other ready to show you pictures of their family kept under seats.

2. Flowers everywhere: garlanded every day fresh as offerings. Used as decor, floating in bowls of water and strung up in ladies’ hair. The smell of jasmin and the deep pinks and yellows. Watching people riding around motorcycles delivering flowers and garlands.

3. Temples everywhere: I don’t buy Hinduism but I respect how many temples there were and how many opportunities there are for worship in everyday life. I walked past a temple everyday on the way to work and found it had a calming influence and reminded me that starting out the day with a fleeting prayer was pretty good.

4. Food: Dosas made from a batter of fermented lentils and rice, gluten-free and delicious with coconut chutney. Fresh green coconuts with their tops hacked off with a machete and with straw dunked inside for drinking. Crazy sweet sweets made from nuts, ghee and milk, hello Mysore Gold! Fresh fruit juice made entirely of fruit especially the litchi juice from Cool Joint in JP Nagar and Malleswaram’s mango and sugar cane juice. Outdoor food markets which their piles weird never-before-seen-by-me fruits and veg and pyramids of eye-searingly colourful spices.

5. People: What lovely folks I was lucky enough to get to hang out with. I miss the many dinners, chats, charts (snacks) and enlightenments. People in India are friendly and lovely – even though, at first glance, there’s an unfriendly demeanour they are super welcoming.




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