Our 2022 India visit
Boring!? But for those interested and want to read on, here is the potted version of what transpired on said visit, minus family snaps (although lots were taken) and anecdotes (and there are many).
My love affair with India began before my first visit there, in 1983. I was fascinated with it as a country that is in effect a continent, with as much diversity as any other continent. It was, as I was to find out, a land of amazing contrasts and diversity and, before being spoiled by west decadence, having an incredible culture, which can be viewed in both positive and negative terms. Also, it was brought to my attention as an amazing mission field, when I attended a conference put on by Operation Mobilisation, just after leaving school. In 1983, when between jobs, being free and single with a desire to travel, I decided there was nothing to stop me “doing” India, although as I was to discover, it was somewhat ambitious given it is such a vast country with much to see and experience.
I arrived in India, in Bombay, in the middle of the night and was struck by the humidity due to it being the rainy season while temperatures were high – and the smell (due to nearby waste disposal) – followed by a taxi journey to down town, to the hotel I would be staying, where I could see opulent looking dwellings side by side with people sleeping in make shift shelters. Many cultural curiosities were to follow and I soon found the secret to surviving, and even thriving, my India experience was adaptability. Soon, came a decision that was to have a major bearing on the rest of my life. It was to do with choosing which railway journey to take and whether to go North or South. It happened, I was given an address to stay in Trivandrum, the capital of India’s most South state. I opted for the latter and began a two day journey and after met a surprised but welcoming host. I was later taken to a village with basic amenities (in those days no electricity, but is now our second home). I was a curiosity as the first white man to visit. There I met my future wife. After a few days, I begun my exploration, with an Indian brother as guide, often off the tourist trail, of this amazing country.
What followed in years after were regular visits to India, often 2-4 weeks each year, where travel got overtaken by ministry. My future father-in-law, an evangelist, who was to take me under his wing, who I met in that Trivandrum house belonging to the brother of a friend of a friend back in the UK. He was instrumental in opening up opportunities, and then (after marrying his daughter) with family life (it being a large, close-knit family). Before this trip just gone, my previous India visit was in 2019, but what with restrictions due to Covid, it was not opportune to visit until now. The trip nearly did not come off. My wife had booked us both to go out and stay for four weeks, just over a month before flying out – plenty to time I thought to get my visa. It was not to be – the earliest opportunity to “be seen” was a month away. Quick change and I flew out two weeks later. Besides the visa, the only other imposition was having a PCR test showing that I was Covid-19 free. It all worked out well, insofar my wife used those two weeks to do her own travels to four Indian States to see friends and family – the sort of thing I would have relished in my backpacking days, but now with my own physical limitations not something I would readily entertain.
About my journey there and back – it was remarkably smooth and hassle free. About my stay, it was better than great, staying in our family home situated in beautiful semi-rural Kerala (God’s own country). Other than a trip to Trivandrum to visit friends and family, including the very first house I ever stayed in, and to the nearby church my family attended and where I preached, there is nothing particularly notable to blog about. While not spending time on the roof as previous (due to my inability to easily negotiate steps) I did spend time on the balcony, which I made into my office. I was well looked after and I did some serious reading. One lovely highlight for me was many people came and went to/from our house (which pleased Mrs B no end – helped by her conversing in her mother tongue). It was lovely that a number of friends and family made long journeys to come and see us. It was wonderful catching up with such folk, many of which feature in our family prayer times.
Was it worth the effort to go – absolutely! Will we be going again – you bet (DV)!
One thought on “Our 2022 India visit”
Sounds wonderful, whenever I see India on TV (Rick Stein did wonderful programme from Kerala)I feel I would love to go but Duncan and I are such wimps we always have some trauma or other abroad unless staying in a hotel!
The sights and sounds are amazing on TV, must be incredible in real life.
Pleased you had a great time, even though short and Jolly was able to travel around seeing family.