Words by Sophie Pahl.
Hello again, my dears. Ahhh I’m sorry it has been so long!
It has been 18 days since I left India to meet mum and dad in Dubai to begin our European adventures en route to visit the other Pahl sister who relocated to Paris.
I don’t even know where to begin to wrap things up about my dear India… it feels an eternity ago from when I finished packing my bag as well as clearing out my room. I held on so tight to my dear love Kripa and I cried as I feared for the unknown journey I was remissly embarking on. I was stubborn and thought all the cautious advice was an overprotective reaction, regardless of who I found it coming from. In retrospect, it was all extremely valid advice which slightly I regret not having absorbed every piece of. BUT I SURVIVED!
My adventure took me to four states and seven cities: New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Pune and Mumbai. Each city with the same national pride at heart, but diversifying characteristics defining itself. I based a majority of my time in the western state of Rajasthan, a delightfully vibrant state filled with every colour you ever need to see in your life.
As I sat in the airport and reflected on everything I saw and missed out on, I couldn’t help but be fixated on what I did miss: mostly at the fault of my sceptical, anxious paranoia. I said “no” as many times as I said “yes”, if not more. I wouldn’t say this is a regret, I made a lot of decisions based on my gut instincts. For my safety, perhaps it was for the best.
It’s so strange also reflecting on what my experiences honestly were vs how I expected they ‘should have been’. For example, in Delhi, a city of 22 million people, in my very first seconds of experiencing India, I was able to seek out peacefulness amongst the noise and chaos. I was mistaking this peacefulness for silence in a temple located far enough away from Connaught Place. Don’t get me wrong, silence is peaceful! However, I learnt to find this very mellowing feeling of peace on the street amongst the bedlam of thousands of people. For every shrine in the alley way and prayer on the corner, there was a moment shed of beautiful composure.
The greatest skill I have acquired here in India is allowing car horns to become white noise. It’s like living on the train line in Adelaide, I don’t notice the train unless someone points it out (it’s really not the same at all..…)
Retrospect is just delightful! Of course I wish I knew what I know now two and a half weeks ago, for general ease of everything from navigation (not on how not to get lost, just how not to wind up walking on national highways) to composure on the sketchiest of streets. However the adventure could not have been so shocking and insightful with all of that knowledge.
You were kind, you challenged me – pushing me to my limits, you terrifyingly overwhelmed me and then proceeded to sweep me off my feet. In you I discovered new self confidence born from my very own (lonely but warm) company. I grew quite fond of you, India. You did good things to me, I will see you again before you know it. Albeit accompanied, I’ll be graced by your goodness again.
I am now with my dear mother and father, we just departed from Paris where I was able to walk through the new daily life of my sister. We have visited my dear Italy where my two beautiful worlds became one. We are now en route to London for a few weeks in the UK before drinking beer in Germany and over-indulging on tapas in Spain to be followed by drinking all the vino and eating all the pizza in Italy for one last time.
The almost ‘reverse’ culture shock from India to Europe has been ever so strange. I don’t think I will be able to comprehend nor implement the lessons and changes that India has bestowed upon me until I normalise my life again and find routine at home. Until then, I will continue to find myself in this little bubble of self and life re-evaluation.
I promise to be in touch again in the near future with family adventure updates. I hope each of your worlds are treating you well and you are being kind to yourself and one another.