To India, alone on a business trip – at a time when distasteful news aired on CNN in August 2013 – family, co-workers and even acquaintances were all but comfortable with the idea. I, on the other hand, felt privileged and excited. Given the current situation, I probably won’t get the chance to set foot in Mumbai if it wasn’t required of me for work after all.
Due to precaution, my view of India was limited to “Horn OK Please” at the back of trucks, and pigs roaming around the roadside past Millennium Business Park as Jaganath drove me to and from the hotel where I stayed and the office. While it can be argued that I was unable to experience the real India in overflowing trains and auto rickshaws racing the roads, having met a bunch of kind locals showed me all about the Indian culture in such a way that a normal tourist wouldn’t have had the chance to see.
A warm welcoming party from the time I landed. A kind chauffer who showed me piles of boys celebrating Krishna Janmashtami in action. A daily feast of specially made non-spicy Indian buffet. Two lovely tea times a day. Enthusiastic talks about Raksha-Bandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi and all other festivities. Sampling sweet gulab jamun, tangy pani puri and spicy masala among many many more flavors and delicacies I could ever remember. And a send-off party who gave my roti-loving sister a kilo of chapati whole wheat flour – as if all their gifts and hospitality weren’t enough to make me wish to return to this country someday.
Meanwhile, फिर मिलेंगे phira milēṅgē ‘til we meet again, India!