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My Trip to India: The People Are Friendly
 by Giri
(A non-resident Indian school student in the US)
(September, 2002)

           I and my parents left the US on a one-month trip to India. We were planning a tour around the whole country. I was very excited to meet the people whom I had heard many, many stories about. My relatives and my parents' friends. Especially my father's former colleagues and classmates. He was able to keep in touch with all of them through e-mail.

THE SHUTTERBUG'S MAGIC: The author touching
the top of the Taj Mahal

           Of course, I had met some people I previously had only heard about from my mom and dad in my visit to India six years ago when I was just a small kid. Naturally, I did not remember them this time round. But I knew a lot about them.

           We first arrived at Bombay (Mumbai) where we met my dad's very good friend whom he used to work with. In Mumbai, we saw the Gateway of India, Kamala Nehru Park, Nehru Planetarium, Juhu Beach and the famous Maha Lakshmi Temple. I had a blast, playing with my dad's friend's kids, Rohit and Parikshit. Mumbai was great, but the only hurdle was that it was cloudy all four days I stayed there.

           From Mumbai, we went to Hyderabad on an overnight train. I had never been on an overnight train before. What I really liked about the train, other than the really convenient beds on top of the seats called berths, was the young boys who were selling water bottles. The snacks which were sold on the train were also very good. The 12-hour ride was fun while I was awake: I slept for long as I had missed lot of sleep in Mumbai where I stayed up late into the night playing with Rohit and Parikshit. The overnight train was really cool and a special time to remember in my trip to India.

           When we arrived in Hyderabad, we met my dad's elder brother. From there, we went to my uncle's house. I met my cousin there. My aunt was sick, so I visited the hospital to see her. We stayed in Hyderabad for one day. From there, while my dad stayed back, my mom and I went to Vizag to meet my mom's brother.

           We didn't go for any sight-seeing in Vizag. Mostly we stayed at home. But I got a grand tour of the engineering college where my uncle was vice principal. I mostly played with my two cousins, Bapisree and Manoja. Vizag was a nice break from all that travelling. We just stayed home and played and listened to stories that my uncle told of himself and all his siblings growing up.

           My dad came on the last day there. From Vizag, we took a plane to Delhi. At Delhi, we rented a car and saw the Indian Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan , Jantar Mantar, Qutab Minar, Red Fort, Connaught Place etc         

The author with his parents

The next day we went to Agra. There, we aw the Taj Mahal. The sun was blazing above our heads and I was relieved to go inside the monument. It was amazing that a place so old could be kept so well. It looked almost brand new. What was even cooler was that there was some ancient, but effective mechanism of cooling and it was able to keep the Taj Mahal cool despite the intense heat outside.

           My dad's friends said good-bye as we took a bus for Chandigarh. In Chandigarh, we stayed at my dad's former classmate's house. I saw the PGI, where my dad got his PHD 20 years ago. It was amazing that so many people that my dad knew for almost 22 years were still working at the school.

           My dad's other good friend picked us up from my dad's old classmate's house and he took us to Shimla. We stayed overnight at my dad's friend's relative's house. We had a wonderful breakfast and went to a hotel on top of a mountain. From there we went to the Hanuman Temple. The most memorable part of the temple was the monkeys seen all over the place. I had a fear the monkeys would snatch our camera.

          We took a van to drive us around Shimla to simply enjoy the beauty of the town. All the scenery was wonderful, but we could not tape much of it because we were almost out of battery. We took a train that was built during British rule. From the outside, it looked like a toy. The train was very slow though. It took eight hours to cover a distance of 90 km. The train, however, went through 105 different tunnels.

          We arrived in Delhi from where we took a bus to Bangalore. We didn't go for much sight-seeing in Bangalore, but we did a lot of shopping there. We bought 2 pairs of glasses and a silk rug. From Bangalore we went to back to Hyderabad. At Hyderabad, we went to Charminar and Salarjung Museum. At the museum, we saw a clock that rung bells every hour. There were also old jewels, clothing, and many other artifacts of the medieval period.

           What I really liked about India was the hospitality that our friends gave. Even on such short notice they made our stay in India a very homely one. In our whole one- month stay, we had to stay in a hotel only once. It is great feeling that our friends let us stay at their house, but was even greater that people we only knew through our friends left their own bedrooms so that we could sleep in them. Wherever we went, there was always a friendly face to talk to and that really made our trip to India a memorable one.

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