25 Feb My Little India Journal – Down Memory Lane
Little tit and tats. Not so much about the people I was with or the bad parts, more about my memory of the country.
India is FUN, ADVENTUROUS, UNFORGETTABLE, HUMOROUS, COLOURFUL! They don’t call it Incredible India for nothing 🙂
- I have been to India 15 times.
- I went there to perform, dance and learn.
- I was the lightest traveler always amongst all the girls. I hate heavy luggage. This was handy when it came to train rides. See point No. 10.
- When I first came home to Kuala Lumpur in 2003, after my first trip to India after 3 weeks, I ate with my hands from withdrawal symptoms and I cooked my family my first Indian meal I picked up along the way. I did this till I discovered utensils again. My mom and sis accepted, never said anything and enjoyed the Indian meal I made. They were fascinated.
- I had Chai 2 – 3 times a day and it was better then any other drink I have ever had. Instead of drinking water after rehearsals, sweating and dancing, they would serve hot steaming chai. Why? I do not know but it felt right. It was the most comforting and delicious craving you will have. Only in India. I could not have chai 5 times a day in KL.
My favourite drink however was Bon Vita, India’s chocolate beverage. Was once asked to place order. Got scolded for ordering Bon Vita as it was RM2.30 and not RM1.50 like chai and kopi. Never ever ordered Bon Vita again. Never ordered anything period. You eat what you are given.
- Sand is everywhere. I had numerous most fun, insane rides on the ‘auto’ which looks like mini yellow 3 wheeled tuk tuks running in every direction with endless 5 or 6 lanes with cow, vehicles, human moving against and following direction, your hair will never be the same again. Auto rides were the one thing I looked forward to always. I would jump at the chance to ride on an auto. Nothing in India is 10 minutes away at that time. The deafening honking would drown out all thoughts. You watched the world go by. There was so much peace in chaos.
- Saree shops and markets are like nostalgic palace days of yarns of textile from ceiling to floor in halls and halls and at least 3 floors always in a shop of doorway after doorway after doorway. Every saree is in a different colour of a million shades, Photoshop or Pantone will never match and design and motif, symbols and design as creative and exciting as their cuisine.
- Indian TV was one of my favourite things. They would have 24/7 music video channel playing all the Bollywood hit music videos and you could watch it endlessly and never get bored. Dance choreography was amazing! Even their TV commercials were so watchable again and again. Indian TV was always happy. It made people happy. There was non-stop music and dance. In Russia, they grow up with Indian and Bollywood Tv and movies which I saw too, as the government felt it was healthy and positive type shows to uplift spirits of the country. They have Indian shows even in far off lands.
- Every house, shop lot, building design is different from the next even when they’re next to each other. The facade is never the same as the inside. The architectural beauty of what may seem unappealing on the outside is quite different in the inside with courtyards, balconies, interesting layouts, stairways, roof tops flourished with decor of coloured walls, cushions, nostalgic wooden type beds and some marble floored bathrooms. Marble floor bathrooms are common. It was rustic, unique, very rich in hand made artistry like kolam, carvings and art.
- One of the most beautiful and unique cultures was India’s amphi-theatres. The amber coated flooring, old Greece Olympian type seating plans, sea sand backdrops, temple sculptures gave India performing spaces its unique identity in the natural sense. It was not contrived. I hated the day we had to perform in DBKL instead of the open-air space under the stars. Another deliberate set-up.
- Now, the most important thing, that wonderful blue seated signature moving steaming vehicle called the India Train. My best most hilarious memory was with Jyotsnaa Mohan covering cockroaches with everyones shoes so it would stop crawling without killing it. It may sound like I have lost my mind, but in that situation with Jyotsnaa Mohan one hand Nike deodarant spraying at each baby cockroach that we discovered with me laughing at her in actual fact, reactions and facial reactions, Ramli and Siva trying very hard to control themselves ignoring us too. It was like a cat and mouse with our feet up, looking out for them, swiping any that came too close to Siva and then trying to spot their path on the wall for that damn hole where they were all coming from till we found it and blocked it! I never laughed so much in my life. We ran out of shoes but found the hole in time. We laughed and did this almost the entire half of the ride. I never went to the bathroom on the train. Not for 16 hours at one point. But strangely I never had to go. We all never did. Never drank any water either.
Signature man with big tin ‘tongs’ would announce, “chai, kopi kopi kopi….chai, kopi kopi kopi…” then packed really good chapati and curry gravy as the meal for the long trips.
The seats are 3 tiers. So if the person above you wants to sleep, you have no choice to lie down and you will not be able to sit up anymore as the space between each is not much as such you will have no choice.
You have less then 5 minutes to find your train cart and load ALL luggage on the train before it leaves. The insane amount of luggage had to be thrown in and on the way to the train, you can hire men to carry them and then you get to see that classic photography moment of luggages on head wraps. That’s why I travel light.
- I was barefoot so much that at one point I didn’t wear shoes or didn’t feel I needed or wore shoes. Once in Mahapallipuram Radisson Hotel, I walked barefoot on the road with the younger girls towards the open air stage and Mala and some other ladies on the buggy stopped dead in their tracks bewildered when they saw me. I loved the feeling of everything underneath my feet.
- Fab India was a store that was truly fabulous. Now there are a few others like it.
- I never asked for toilet paper in India as it is practiced to wash and not clog their drainage system. During emergencies only, I would use the one roll I brought with me 🙂
To be updated when I recall more good stuff to pen down ☺