Tag Archives: traveler

9 Things I Miss The Most About India

Incredible India

I fell in love with Indian literature when I first read Jhumpa Lahiri‘s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. It was then that I got obsessed with Indian–and South Asian–literature in general. Soon, I found myself immersed in the works of other Indian writers like Thrity Umrigar, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Chetan Bhagat, and Raj Kamal Jha, as well as Pakistani writers, including Roopa Farooki, Bina Shah, John Siddique, and Daniyal Mueenuddin. When I landed in India mid-February this year, hitting Mumbai and the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, I got swept away by this nostalgic feeling of being at home. Everything seemed distant and foreign, yet comforting and familiar. In one and other way, India reminded me a lot of Pakistan. The two countries captivated me in an instant to the extent that I would gladly think of them as my second home. And these are the 9 things I miss the most about India, not in any particular order:

1. The beautiful buildings and architectures. Especially in Mumbai. I love the feeling of going back in time every time I look at those beautiful structures: palaces, flats, train stations, government offices, forts, temples.

1-India-BeautifulBuildings

2. The food. In Indonesia, I am not a big fan of Indian food. I never really liked the taste somehow–there’s always something that isn’t right. But I found myself falling in love with Indian food in India. Wherever I went, from the street-stalls to a fancy restaurant to someone’s kitchen, the taste of the food was always perfect. I loved it so much that I had no cravings for junk food at all–despite the fact that I spent 13 days in the country and passed by McDonald’s or KFC numerous times.

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3. The birds. I don’t know why there are so many birds in India. Birds are flying freely above the temples, the street, someone’s backyard, and nesting right outside your window. I miss their constant cooing. I miss going to sleep at night with the sound of their flapping wings against the windowsill.

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4. The squirrels. And I don’t know why there are so many squirrels in India! Just like the birds, they are everywhere: temples, buildings, streets, backyards, random trees, you name it. They are the cutest thing ever. I love them!

1-India-Squirrels

5. The bookshops. For someone who spent most of her money on books, India is definitely a paradise for book lovers. Compared to Indonesia, the price of books in India is very cheap. You can get a classic English book for IDR 30,000 only (USD 3)–and bookshops can be found everywhere: from the posh Khan Market area to the bustling street-side of Colaba’s night market. I bought so many books in Delhi and ended up sending them back home from Jaipur to avoid excess baggage–because they weighed 10 kilograms.

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6. The Qutb complex in Delhi. Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret in India, but the complex housed several other ancient structures from that era; including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque–the first mosque to be built in India. It was so serene–the morning when I was there–I could breathe in the glory and the divinity of what it once had been. And the huge garden inside the complex was just breathtaking. I could see myself spending my mornings in this complex, walking around mindlessly or sitting on a bench under a tree, painting, reading a poetry book, or writing on a piece of paper.

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7. The city’s outdoors. I love it when you’re in the middle of the city and you can just walk by to the nearest park or a riverbank or the seaside to sit and chill. And India has loads of spots like that. From Mumbai’s Marine Drive to Delhi’s public parks, I found it charming to see people from all ages having picnics at the outdoors: couples, friends, families, some blokes… *giggles*

Incredible India - Blokes at the Outdoors

8. The color-burst. Those colorful saris, bangles, buildings, trucks, rickshaws, desserts… India’s color palette is extremely rich. No matter where I looked, I was exposed to those amazing colors, like a constant feast for the eyes. Immediately, it brought me back to my childhood days–to the nostalgic feeling of wonder and amusement as I opened up my first box of 32 Crayola crayons.

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9. Gee. It was amazing how we got to know each other through this blog. And that we decided to meet up in Delhi. Gee, or Geetanjali Kaul, is definitely the highlight of my India trip. She is also a living proof that arranged marriage can actually work; romantically speaking. Amazing to see how–after 15 years of marriage, she is still madly in love with his husband, Ashish. Maybe wonderful souls did find each other. Gee and I spent an amazing three days together, and she took care of me like we had known each other for years. I miss her. And her best friend, Neeraj. And her mother-in-law (Didi), and her mother-in-law’s mother (Nani), and her wonderful kids Anika and Vivan. And her dogs.

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I miss India.

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Traveling companion.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving | Lao Tzu

Ada rencana-rencana yang sudah kita bicarakan. Rencana-rencana yang kemudian berantakan di tengah jalan. Lalu kita menyusun rencana-rencana baru. Daftar yang panjang mengenai apa-apa yang akan dilakukan. Dan rencana itu pun berantakan sebelum sempat diwujudkan. Kali ini, tidak seperti yang pertama, aku agak kecewa. Dan menurutku, tidak mengapa, karena bukankah merasa kecewa itu menujukkan bahwa aku memang manusia biasa. Tidak selamanya aku harus bahagia dan baik-baik saja. Dan mengakui bahwa aku kecewa itu lebih baik daripada harus berpura-pura. Jadi. Aku. Kecewa. Titik. Oh, masih ada koma: dan juga sedikit sedih.

(Aku tidak tahu apakah kamu juga)

Tetapi, malam tadi, sahabatku datang, membawakan dirinya, juga sekantong benda-benda lucu: mulai dari pernak-pernik burung hantu, untaian kalung-kalung lucu, mouse pad yang katanya mirip aku, dan sebuah buku. Jurnal perjalanan dengan gambar kota Bangkok di sampul depan. Tebalnya satu ruas ibu jariku. Entah mengapa yang bisa kupikirkan saat melihat travel journal itu hanya kamu. Aku ingat perjalanan di atas kereta dari Jerez ke Sevilla tahun lalu, ketika aku menuliskan berlembar-lembar surat untukmu. Ya, surat-surat yang tak pernah kukirimkan itu. Lalu aku berpikir tentang rencana-rencana kita yang berantakan, yang kemudian memaksaku untuk mencari tempat lain untuk didatangi. Perjalanan panjang yang akan kutempuh, menyeberangi garis-garis waktu ke tempat di mana tidak ada kamu.

Tiba-tiba meledak gambaran dalam benakku. Aku yang mengisi lembar-lembar travel journal itu dengan sketsa, surat-surat, kutipan-kutipan, puisi dan ingatan-ingatanku tentang kita, guntingan koran dalam bahasa yang tidak kumengerti, ah, dan mungkin peta (aku mudah tersesat dan kehilangan arah), atau nomor telepon orang-orang dan tempat-tempat yang kudatangi. Satu-satunya yang ada dalam benakku adalah memenuhinya dengan cerita-cerita perjalananku. Lalu sebelum pulang, mungkin aku akan memotret semua halamannya dan menyimpannya di dalam folder komputerku, sementara travel journal yang sebenarnya akan kukirimkan kepadamu melalui pos.

Begitu?

Kemudian aku kembali senang. Kembali bahagia. Kembali bersemangat dengan rencana-rencana baru. Siapa bilang di tempat yang kutuju tidak ada kamu? Kamu akan selalu ada di sana: di langit pagiku, pemandangan kaldera di luar kamarku, halaman-halaman buku, batu-batu di sepanjang pantai yang katanya berpasir hitam itu…

Lalu, siang ini, aku menemukan kutipan dari Lao Tzu. A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. Aku ingin melihat hidup (baca: kita) dan cinta (baca: kamu) dari sudut pandang seorang traveler. Untuk mengerti bahwa rencana-rencana—bahkan yang disusun dengan sangat hati-hati sekalipun, bisa berantakan kapan saja. Tujuan akhir kita bukanlah untuk sampai di satu titik, tapi terus berjalan dan mencari petualangan-petualangan baru. Bukankah kita juga pernah berteriak lantang, “We don’t plan! We do things!

Dan kurasa itulah yang akan kulakukan mulai saat ini.

Pagi-pagi, kamu mengatakan bahwa kamu sempat tidak baik-baik saja. Jadi kuhabiskan seharian itu untuk menghiburmu dengan hal-hal lucu yang kutangkap dari balik lensa kameraku. Sampai kamu bisa tertawa lagi dan bisa merasa baik-baik lagi. Lalu kusadari sesuatu. Yang membuatku bahagia ternyata bukan tercapainya impian-impian itu: tetapi mendengar kamu bisa tertawa lagi karena sesuatu yang kukatakan. Yang terpenting buatku ternyata bukan terwujudnya rencana-rencana itu: tetapi kamu.

Iya, kamu.

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