The author’s decision to travel to one of the largest countries on planet earth had life changing consequences.
The decision to travel to India was always on the cards; I am a lifelong student of Indian history and politics — from reading about the British East India company and its excesses, to the Indian mutiny of 1857, which led to the installation of the British Raj, its independence in 1947 and the subsequent partitioning of the great country. The sectarian violence which arose from India’s carving into two separate entities and the unresolved issues, which culminated in the Bengali people going it alone in the early 1970s and the resulting refugee crisis were topics that I enjoyed reading immensely.
There was also the intense fascination with the Nehru dynasty, starting with Motilal Nehru, passing on to his son, Jawaharlal, who became India’s first prime minister, post-independence and not forgetting the tragic story of Indira Gandhi and her two sons — Rajiv and Sanjay.
Given that I lived and worked in Colindale, North London, I had the rare privilege of learning Gujurati — the language spoken in the Western region of India. In all honesty, I was taught the finest swear words in Hindi, Gujurati and Urdu, for reasons of respect to all would be readers, will not be translated into English. Words like Maha Chodu, Bhen Chod, Guru Ghantal, Landa Baz and Gandu, to name a few.
By the time I made the decision in August 2011 to undertake the journey, my work colleagues were slightly concerned and wondered aloud, if this wasn’t altogether misguided and fool hardy, owing to the fact that I was venturing out there, unaccompanied. But I had no fears whatsoever about the impending trip and getting the requisite visa from the embassy in central London, was an absolute breeze.
Trip Outline and Strategy
My strategy was to kick off in Ahmadabad, spend a few days there,then head out to Delhi, Jaipur and Gurgaon. Fly out to China, travel through a few cities in the People’s republic and return to India, wander around Mumbai, return to Ahmadabad and if there’s time to spare, venture out to Rajkot to touch base with a few friends, then get back to base, from where, I would return to London.