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 another 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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


I miss India.


38 Responses

    1. Neeraj! Too bad I could not see you before I got back! 🙁 Thanks a bunch for everything! Let me know if you happen to travel to this part of the world! *hugs* :’)

  1. seperti biasa selalu memukau blog ini. gambar dan kata2nya cool #duajempolnaik. btw yg toko buku. kereeeen!!! i just accomplished a book about India and it triggers my mind for India..di tambah ini jadi tambah pengen.

  2. True. I put number 8 as number 1 for me and so totally agree with number 3, too bad I can’t never remember all those names but I can tell my stomach was beyond happy. Oh, there’s simply no lassi and chai similar to the original around here. I found foggy morning in Delhi is simply enchanting.

    Thank you for this post. When a friend told me how he loathed India, my reply was perhaps I am that chaotic madness I “clicked” easily. Then your post arrived and now I have excuses (although no need for that sih)

    1. I think it’s easier to hate than to love. Maybe we simply choose the more difficult path because it’s more challenging 😛 LOL ^o^ Chaotic madness is cool, though.

  3. Mbak bagaimana dengan resiko perjalanan ? Setelah begitu banyaknya berita-berita negatif tentang travelling di India ? Menurut saya harus diulas juga. Maaf kalau tidak berkenan.

    1. Risiko perjalanan bisa terjadi di mana saja; bukan hanya di India. Sikap dan kesiapan kita menjadi hal yang penting. Saya sudah menulis mengenai hal ini – dan ini berlaku untuk perjalanan ke mana saja, bukan hanya ke India. Terus terang, saya lebih sering dilecehkan dan disuiti lelaki ketika sedang berjalan di trotoar Jakarta daripada ketika sedang berjalan sendirian di Delhi.

  4. Thank you dear Hanny for this post! I have for many years longed for someone just like you to show me all the wonder and the beauty of Pakistan and India. I love to read, and cannot wait to devour your literary suggestions with relish! My best friend lives in GujarKhan which is just south of Rawalpindi in the Punjab. I plan to spend the rest of tonite going slowly over every little bit of your beautiful work, I am at once humbled and very blessed! Perfect! Thank you again Hanny and I hope you are safe and happy tonite surrounded by a thousand bright stars to light your way! Cissy in Tejas

  5. My gosh… As i read this fr the millionth time I realised that I have not left a comment here… goodness gracious me… apologies my darling Hanny… I’m so overwhelmed and zapped to read this sweetheart… you are a great soul … I so loved being with you… Thanks for this amazing post… It is truly ever so beautiful… Love n hugs ,,, muuuuuuuuuuuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Reblogged this on g caffè and commented:
    She came … she saw… and she conquered… yeah my first friend out of the blogging world. Hanny – An angel who came from Indonesia and made a special place in my heart. Sometimes some people are just simply meant for you – she is one of them. Thanks for this brilliant tribute sweetheart. You are a gem of a person. Waiting for your next trip to India. With Love from India.

If you made it this, far, please say 'hi'. It really means a lot to me! :)

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I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.