So Different, So Beautiful, So Breathtaking

The week began with a morning of work, followed by seeing my parents for the last time before they flew back to New Zealand. We took a train and a rickshaw to Bandra. I kid you not; the second we got to the beach at Bandra, I fell very ill. AGAIN! This photo was taken just moments before the incident.

This meant another two days of recovering in bed. As I was lying there, contemplating my existence, I said to myself that this would be the last time, even if it meant eating only KFC for the rest of the trip. Luckily, I couldn’t stick to the KFC diet and still have not gotten sick again. Wednesday and Thursday saw me back at work, feeling better than ever. I haven’t yet talked much about my commute to and from work, so I thought I’d fill you in.

The day starts with a 15-minute walk from the YWCA to Churchgate, one of our local train stations. I then take the fast train on the Western Line to Bandra, taking around half an hour. As everyone pours off the train at Bandra, we are hampered by the even bigger mass trying to get onto the train. It is absolute madness. I then walk (optionally instead of getting a rickshaw) for around another 20 minutes to my office, United Way of Mumbai. This daily walk is so different from any walk I have ever done. The first eight minutes are through busy commuter traffic. I am very lucky to have not been hit yet because I walk around like it’s my last day on Earth. The second eight minutes are on a paved pathway through a local community. There are small shops on either side selling all sorts, from gold to sheep heads. The buildings on either side are also dishevelled two/three story shacks which are fascinating to look at. The third eight-minute section has a complete mixture of terrains. One minute I’m walking on a dirt and gravel pathway between buildings, and the next, I’m walking through 50cm wide alleys with hundreds of others. Every time that I do this walk, I think to myself, “this is manic, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.” Seeing what I do every day makes me appreciate so much about my life. It’s the little things I notice that really open my eyes to what I have at home that these small communities do not have access to.

On Friday, we all rose early, 5:30 am early, to get to the airport for our morning flight to Delhi. Saying I was excited about the weekend would be a gross understatement. It was a short two-hour flight, and OH MY GOODNESS… I got an armrest. My life felt complete. After a warm welcome from our tour guide, we headed to check in to our five-star hotel. Just in case you missed it, five-star, I said. We got lunch at an outdoor restaurant, and I finally got the salad I had been dreaming of. Over the next two days, we saw a multitude of historical forts, and I will not get into the details of each, but they were fascinating. BUT I most definitely have to get right into the details of the Taj Mahal. There are very few moments in my lifetime where I have been speechless. Everyone on this trip is now coming to terms with that fact. But upon going through the archway and seeing the Taj basking in the evening sun, I had no words. It was simply beautiful. After getting a few cheeky photos among the thousands of tourists, we explored the grounds until sunset. I walked around multiple times and felt like I could stay for hours more. It was that incredible. This truly was an experience that I will never forget.

Don’t ask about the little dance; India just makes me happy. This week, as with the previous two weeks, made me think about how fortunate I am to be seeing such incredible works of art. The blood, sweat and tears that went into these structures seem unfathomable. It is a real eye-opener when you look to one side and see millions of people hustling on the street to earn a living and then turn around and see some of the most beautiful architecture in the world and be able to appreciate every little detail of it. What’s more, I’m getting to do it with a fantastic group of people – a group of people that are so different and so WEIRD but somehow just seem to gel in an unconventional and sometimes disturbing manner. I am so, so very lucky. We all are, and I think that is something we are all learning on this trip. In saying that, BRING ON THE 4TH WEEK!

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