|Travel is about those moments that you can’t plan, but just happen. In India recently, there were memorable moments that remain with me.
In Delhi it is the billboard signs that made me laugh – advertising rhinoplasty and thoughtfully telling everyone that meant a nose job!
In the Little Taj in Agra it was trying to get a photo of an elusive monkey and failing!
It was coming across a wedding procession as we entered Jaipur and were invited to join in for a few moments with the groom and his brother and mother and guests on the way to meet the bride.
In Jaipur it was not the elephant ride up to the Amber Fort (and they are well looked after and only permitted to work short hours) it was feeding Nouri our elephant her two bananas carefully purloined from the breakfast buffet.
On our visit to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (in the middle of nowhere but only 45 minutes from Udaipur) it was going for a walk in the town the hotel is next to, and seeing the people going about their business – a woman bringing grass on her head, the elders discussing business, chatting to a lady as she cooked and seeing people come back from a funeral. And three little kids!
But the best experience was the early morning visit to Dhar a village about 10 minutes from our hotel in Udaipur. Six of us visited, seeing camels on the side of the road, and kids on school buses heading into the city. I had the privilege of rolling out chapatis for breakfast with a local lady – and mine at least made it onto the pile that would be cooked and eaten! We encountered goats and cows with varying degrees of territorialness, and then visited the local village school.
We were there for morning prayers, and it was great to see they were led by three girls. We then finished our visit with a trip to the local Hindu temple high on a hilltop and carved out of a cave formation.
Travel is about experiencing life as the locals do. Sometimes you can stumble across those experiences, some you can plan for but you need to allow what will happen to happen.
Those are the memories that remain long after you have forgotten where you stayed and how much you paid. It is those moments that are the reason I travel.