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Mountains, Mystics and Falling in Love.
By Bianca Lucas
11 August 2010





"Don't trust anyone in Delhi. I'm from Delhi and I don't even trust anyone there" said the taxi driver on the way to the airport.This along with other advice friends had given me following their journeys through India (Don't go out at night, its too dangerous'. ‘You can't avoid Delhi Belly'. ‘You'll either hate it or love it. I think you'll hate it Bianca') had the sensible side of my brain scared and screaming to just turn around and go home. The other not so sensible side of my brain though, ignored its counterpart and told me to just get out of the taxi. ‘Surely' it reasoned, ‘in a country that pays homage to over 300 million Hindu Gods and Goddess's one of them will look after you on your little adventure'.

 

An adventure that started with the craziness that is Delhi traffic complete with its symphony of horns, to the grandiose Red Fort and perfectly preserved tombs built for lost loves, makeshift rooftop bars (with G&T's) , Bollywood movies and palm-readers. After 3 days guess what? I didn't hate Delhi. Surprisingly, I rather liked it. The Gods seemed to be on my side.




Trains and buses (often long, sometimes scary, but mostly fun) took me from stunning hillside towns to simple and peaceful villages scattered with temples dedicated to the God Shiva and where drinking sweet chai tea with new friends in the afternoons became highlights of the trip. Further north to Amritsar where I witnessed a breathtaking Sikh ceremony at the Golden Temple and what would become another highlight of the trip, the border closing ceremony between India and Pakistan. Where the solemnity of the occasion was overtaken with the sheer exuberance of the Indian people and where I danced Bollywood style with a few hundred Indian women, girls and babies.






And to the reason I initially choose to visit India – Dharamsala, now home to the exiled Dalai Lama. My days here were spent marvelling at the majestic Himalayan Mountains and Buddhist temples and where (Holy) cows stopped traffic. And from the worship of deities, and the chants of Buddhist monks to the religion that is cricket and a mantra of ‘Gilli, Gilli, Gilli' (yes He was playing). An unforgettable evening at an IPL match where monks wore their favourite cricket team's shirts under their saffron robes and men danced wildly about to Indian music and fireworks whenever a player hit a six, or got out, or both!




The verdict was in. I was in love. I wore a smile as large as the scoops of strawberry ice cream I was eating. And as the palm reader predicted ("you will come back to India" he said nearly 3 weeks earlier), I sat in the afternoon heat, my last day in Delhi, planning my return as soon as possible to this crazy, crowded, wonderful, noisy, pushy, spiritual, frustrating, friendly, magical country and how very glad I was that I rarely listen to that sensible side of my brain. 


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