Having experienced splendor in Hampi old and new, we packed our bags and returned to Bangalore to lay low for a day or two before departing. With our flights home (or back to Greece, in Shan Shan’s case) staggered, we’d made few plans, and ended up spending most of our short time at Samyukta’s. We were wiped from the trip, anyway, so it was nice to take a breather before a long flight. We did enjoy a party on Samyukta’s roof terrace with a group of her cousins and friends.

I’m at home in Neenah as I write this, and my processing of the trip still feels fully in progress. Looking out at the blanket of snow in the backyard reasserts just how different of a place India felt compared to what I am used to. If travel can have objectives, one for me is self-reflection: experiencing a foreign place has the strange power of bringing one’s own life into focus. The contrast of customs, demeanors, histories, spiritualities and more highlights the conventions or habits I choose to live by and helps me assess their essentiality.

I wrote a brief post at the start of the trip in which I wrote “…I find myself on the brink of what I hope to be a period of much-anticipated, unexpected, inspiring and challenging experiences.” All of these hoped-for types of experiences came to be.

Much-anticipated: reuniting with recently made friends; exploring Indian cuisine; experiencing the Holi festival

Unexpected: exclusive tours of palaces in Karnataka; our stays in Kochi and Munnar; the counter-culture vibe in Arambol

Inspiring: the handmade goods seminar at Tharangini studio; the serenity of Havelock’s beaches; the mysteriousness of the temple ruins in Hampi

Challenging: letting go of what I’m used to in order to experience unfamiliar surroundings; making travel arrangements during the trip; dealing with sickness (so thankful for the support of my companions)

If there’s one thing I take away from all of these experiences, it’s that we really only scratched the surface of India. What an expansive, diverse, richly cultural place. One could spend months and months there learning about different aspects of the country and exploring different places.

Who knows–maybe there will be another India trip for me down the road…

Travel

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