It was two years ago, during one of my stays in Paris Shabby suggested that I buy “L’equilibre du Monde”, a book written by an indian author, who is not known in my country (pls see my goodreads list; its english version is entitled as “A Fine Balance”). I bought it because it was a thick book, with almost 1,000 pages, but in pocket size format. Which means I would read it anywhere and during my travels.
I started to read the book, but I couldn’t finish it quickly. That’s not because it was a boring story, instead, I consider it as a masterwork, but because usually I read many books at the same time. The author, Rohinton Mistry, was telling the stories of 3 generations of Indian people, with very marginal characters. Just in one those days, my travel companion had arrived to home, with tickets to India:
“We have to spend our cumulated miles” he told me.
“What? India? I never go there!”
“But then, how would you become a traveller?”
My travel companion was right and Shabby was smiling to me. I know very well these lookings.
“Don’t you want to see the characters of your book which you read in their places?”
Yes, Shabby, yes, I know that India is an adventure, another world for most of the travellers! I’ll go there with a condition: I would stay in the best hotels of India.
We were having only one week and we should plan very well our route in advance and stay in the top-end hotels. Which we did. And it was a very different experience of India. To start with, I shall say that this is a country of contrasts: on one hand, you see one person owning the whole town, on the other, most of people live in poverty, don’t have water and toilets in their houses. Caste system is very strong and each individual belongs to a caste by birth which defines his destiny in life. But everybody is happy. If someone is from the lowest caste, he believes that he would be rewarded with higher castes after his death. Everybody practices a religion. And this is a country where all religions and beliefs of the world co-exist.
This is a huge country also. I could barely visit one part of Rajasthan in one week. Rajasthan is in the north of the country and I visited Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur and finished with New Delhi. My friends told me that the south of India was much pleasant and rich. I don’t have any idea. I believe in what I saw: extreme poverty and happiness at the same time.
Now the Rajasthan journey begins for you as well, or rather, a journey to the places of the 1001 Nights Tales!