The first time I visited India I was, in a word, shocked. It wasn't my finest hour as a world traveler... I would shrink away from the roving street urchins in revulsion or sneer at a taxi driver asking me prying questions about if I had children -- was he hitting on me the moment my husband jumped out of the cab to use an ATM or just curious about his very foregin fare?
This time, I'm ready for it and rather excited. It's a beatifully messy corner of the world that is incomparable to any city or area of the USA or Europe. People liken Mumbai to NYC but, in fact, there's not a place in Manhattan where you'll turn a corner and run head-long into a cow or a man pulling a cart down a dirt road.
India is I imagine like broccoli for some people. Some instantly love it and want it all the time.
Others recoil at the new taste the first time they try it, perhaps put off by the strangeness of it. But with each new nibble, the taste grows on you more and more until you crave it and can't believe there was a time when you didn't like it.
Others hate it for life.
I fall into the second group and thankfully it only took two nibbles, so to speak.
It didn't take me more than my second trip to decide that I liked India... that I really liked it, that I was going to open up and not have a reactionary, knee-jerk response to the fact that things are very different, that I'm stared at incessantly, that I can't just pick up bits of the language as easily as I can throughout Europe. Thank goodness. Because airfare isn't cheap and I couldn't afford to go five more times before deciding I like it.
Anyway, more to come. That's just the snippet I can type out before having to slam shut my computer and run to my husband's office to deposit it for the duration of the trip (a laptop free holiday... I'm not sure how I"m going to handle this) and catch the shuttle to Penn Station.