Living in India | Jenn

Living in India

Those who had told me 5 years ago that I would live in India today, I had secretly lacked a little. India, the land of the Maharajas, Yoga, Taj Mahal, fragrant herbs and colorful sarees. But also the land of crowded, busier, busiest, where the closets system is still high tide, mountains of garbage and about which you regularly read news stories about raped and murdered female tourists. India, a country that attracted me immensely on the one hand, but on the other hand repels enormously. A country I would like to visit, but not exactly on my bucket list.

Until a few years ago, on a drizzling November evening, I saw a fun group tour passing by: During New Year's Eve in two weeks through the “golden triangle” of India. That seemed like something to me! Although I always liked to go out myself and an organized group tour wasn't really my thing, I found this an ideal way to explore India in a safe way. I almost booked the trip, were it not that I had bought tickets to Tokyo and Lima a a week before and I didn't have enough days off and finances to book a trip to India last minute. Eventually I went to Valencia with New Year's Eve for a few days, and India disappeared somewhere in the back of my head.

Yet this particular country somehow continued to appeal to me, and some time after I had traded the Netherlands for a wanderer existence, I got the idea somewhere on the border from Peru to Bolivia again to go to India for some time. An idea that got more and more shape when together with a Peruvian friend I had the wild plan to start a kind of wellness hotel together in Colca Canyon (Perú). I was going to India for training in yoga and reiki, and a few months later I was on the plane.

After the culture shock in Delhi, I came home in Rishikesh. Six weeks I was here to go around Northern India, where I volunteered in Amritsar in the Golden Temple, where I had the opportunity to shake the hand of the Dalai Lama in McLeodganj, where I was in awe of the Himalayas and got goosebumps at the first sight of the Taj Mahal.India, you either love it or you hate it, and I was loving it!!!
During this trip I slowly fell in love with this super chaotic country and gained more and more insight into myself. It was a spiritual experience.

Once back in South America, which at that time was a bit my home base, India continued to draw. I had to get back and preferably as soon as possible! It took about half a year, but then it was finally there. This time not to the North what my heart had stolen, but to the southernmost tip, Kerala, where I would volunteer in a hotel near the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kumily for a month or two.

But then fate struck.. floods in South India caused millions of people to become homeless. A horrible disaster that happened when I was just in Kerala. It was recommended not to travel to this region, but I sat there and could not leave. Roads were washed away and airports closed. My volunteer job was in doubt, I couldn't go any way. Fortunately, I was safe and sound in a nice homestay in Fort Kochi, where the water did not penetrate and I could stay for quite some time.. When everything went back to normal and I was going to travel to Kumily, I fell down a staircase. With a bruised body I tried to make myself useful in the cosy hotel, but because of the flood there were no guests and all the rooms had to be cleaned. The only task that was there for me was to carry mattresses. A heavy physical job that I couldn't do at that time. Two months were two weeks in this little paradise.

I went back to Fort Kochi to determine what my next plan would be. Stay in Kerala or go back to North India? During my previous stay in this historic city I had met a local actor. A nice man who invited me to his place right away when he heard about my return. A friendship that slowly blossomed into a beautiful romance during this period and made me linger in Fort Kochi. We made nice trips to the backwaters of Alleppey, the tea palantages in Munnar and the woods in Vattavada, and when he had to be in Tamil Nadu for his work, I joined.
The grief was great when my time in India was up and I had to leave the country. However, a month later I was back.

And now I live in India. Never thought, but still it is. Along with my Indian friend, soon man. And in this weird, busy, special, hectic and often dirty country, I'm happier than I ever dreamed of.

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