India is that one country that is always top of any backpackers list but is sometimes approached with trepidation and anticipation! India is hailed as a travellers paradise where one not only goes to experience the colours, life and perfect chaos of India itself but to meet other backpackers all on their own interesting journey! India has the hidden beaches, the ancient crumbling temples, is the birthplace of Buddha and holds the journey of yoga and meditation, has big cities and small hippie towns, is steeped in religion at every corner, every state holds something new and unique and everywhere you look is something to photograph. Travelling India is a challenge but a good one and this is why it is so rewarding and although stereotypical of the traveller to say; changes you.
We had both wanted to travel India for a long time and so once we had decided to take to the road again India was firmly at the top of our list. This desire to visit India was not only because of those reasons listed above but also because we both have our very own personal connections to India as well.
Here we will both tell our own stories of why visiting India was so important to us;
For as long as I can remember my Mum told my brother and I about her childhood growing up in India. My Grandad had been stationed in India through his job with the UN. As a small girl my Mum and my Grandmother followed my Grandad out to India and settled in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh from 1957 until 1962. My Grandads job here was to help design and instate irrigation systems to the surrounding areas which at that time had no such facilities. My Mum grew up here until she was eight years old before returning to England but her memories of India from this time are still so vivid and strong. She remembers and told us all about family excursions to places such as Mahaballapuram, the train rides, playing with the neighbours little boy, celebrating the festival of Holi and the rickshaw drivers which, in that time, simply used to run along with the cart. My Mum has been back to India many times since her childhood; revisiting where she grew up and meeting up with childhood friends and classmates from some 50 years ago. Her stories always fascinated me, and Charlotte once they met, and when we announced we would be going travelling she was also keen for us to visit India and see for ourselves the beautiful country in which she once called her home.
On writing this we haven’t quite made it across to Lucknow where she grew up but are most certainly planning on passing through there so we can see for ourselves where she grew up and the house she and my Grandparents lived in. Apparently now it is a doctors surgery but still very much standing! It will be amazing to do a little walk back through the history of my family!
Growing up it was always a running joke amongst my Mum, Aunt, Uncle and Nan when my Grandad began with the line “Have I told you about the time I was India?” This was inevitably the beginning of one of his stories about the time he spent in India whilst stationed there as a soldier in the aftermath of World War Two between 1945 and 1947. After having spent time in Normandy, he travelled to India and was stationed in Hyderabad before being moved to the North West Frontier. Now I was too young to remember many of the stories he used to tell but my Mum tells me now that he had felt it was quite an experience and had even caught malaria whilst stationed there. Witnessing India now some 70 years later I can only imagine what it must have been like to travel as a 21 year old all that way to such an extremely different part of the world. I often wonder how much India has changed since that time; I have a feeling probably not that much in terms of the way of life and so it’s interesting to see some of the things my Grandad would too have seen. Sadly, he passed away before I could tell him I too would be making the trip to India or else I would have loved to share with him my own experiences and my own stories from this wonderfully beautiful country.
I’m aware that he wrote a memoir of his life and that his time in India features in this so I look forward to reading it and seeing if I can pick out some of the places he saw and what he felt at the time!
We both very much look forward to having our own journey though India and seeing parts of it through the eyes of both of our Grandparents and Josh’s Mum – hopefully we may even meet some of her childhood friends along the way!
We can’t wait!
C & J x