It was incredibly sad saying goodbye to six of our group members last night. They were all getting up very early in order to catch their morning flight to the Maldives where they’d have four nights to enjoy the tropical paradise. Five of us departed later in the morning in a small van for our last experience of India driving. On the way, we stopped at the world’s largest market for the buying and selling of silk cocoons. This explained what was in the huge burlap bags we saw being balanced on bicyles in the area. And one last photo stop…we had not had a chance to photograph one of the beautifully painted ox carts so Sandhya was on the hunt to make it happen. And she did. Of course, the cart was on the highway along with all the cars, trucks, motorbikes, bicyles and pedestrians. All that was missing was a roaming cow.
I will dearly miss the friendly, kind people of India. It’s very hard to describe how warmly welcome we all felt throughout the entire trip. From the smiling children all hollering “ello ello,” to the assertive street vendors trying to sell us their wares, to every individual we each had the pleasure of meeting…my heart is filled with many memorable interactions. With her encyclopedic knowledge and endless patience, Sandhya was the perfect teacher and host. I’m only disappointed that her “students” often failed to remember everything we learned. I’m using the heat and humidity defense! Our driver somehow managed to take us safely up and down windy roads and through all the confusion of the roads and then also had a smile ready for us when we returned to the bus, along with handwipes – how thoughful! Our bus driver’s assistant (if you’ve ever been to India, you know how vital this person is) assisted in our safe journey and always make sure our bus was clean and comfortable. Finally, my travel companions – enough cannot be said for this fun and sometimes entertaining group of individuals that accompanied me on this UW alumni trip. Hopefully I will once again have the pleasure of welcoming them aboard another tour.
Well, it’s time to leave for the airport for my grueling flights home. From Bangalore, to Singapore, to Seoul, to San Franciso and then Seattle. Wish me luck!