Growing up in Mauritius where over half the population are of Indian descent and being used to Indo-Mauritian customs give you a sense of familiarity with India. Countless travel shows and documentaries, and the ability to google any information you need about the country further reinforce the sentiment. My trip to Hyderabad and New Delhi earlier this month taught me that India was much more than I had imagined.
When you’re there, India is about having spicy dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; it is about being bewildered by the cacophonic and chaotic flow of cars, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, and pedestrians, and wondering how anyone managed to navigate that; and, it is about watching your Indian hosts use English to converse because India is so vast that they do not even speak the same language and that it will never be possible for you — a foreigner — to know India fully.
But, India was not all new experiences. The hospitality, especially, was reminiscent of life in Mauritius: the casual way the hotel receptionist offered to walk three miles to the mall after her shift to make a purchase for me, the fact that our hosts kept turning up at 1.30pm when we had agreed to meet at 12.30pm, and when we became worried about missing our flight because they insisted on making a detour for us to visit Taj Mahal followed by a night tour of New Delhi and a stop at the famous Haldiram’s for aloo paratha and butter milk.