Indian Girls A Reflection On Life
After I left Turkey I returned briefly to the UK and then headed to India. I had a six month visa and planned to spend it travelling around. I was lucky enough to get a dirt cheap charter flight leaving the UK on New Years Eve and I ditched the return half of the ticket when I arrived. Mind you I enjoyed ten days in a hotel first.
No particular aim in mind, I would go with the flow but use my interest in zoos to determine the direction in which I would travel. To me travelling is in many cases as important as the destination. Travelling is about new experiences, new people. Travelling alone I find is best. When you are alone people are more likely to speak to you. Travelling alone you can spend five minutes or fifty looking at a view and not be concerned about anyone else. You can eat what you want, when you want and where you want. You can sleep where you want for however long you want. You can stay or move on or change your mind in the blink of an eye.
I am a loner who likes people. I like meeting people, listening to their stories and learning something of their lives. I believe there are certain people that I was pre-destined to meet. I would take something from meeting them which would change my life in some way.
Here are four Indian Girls who have touched me in some way. I have learned from their lives and perhaps in some way others may learn from me.
None of these girls were lovers. Sex did not come into the equation. These were just people living their own lives in their own way.
I met Valla in Chennai. She was a street girl, no home and lived and slept on the pavement with her mother, grandmother and handicapped brother. I never saw her wear anything but the same colourless shift.
Valla was a skinny girl and passably pretty. I guessed her to twelve or thirteen years old. What made her stand out was her stunning smile and friendly personality. Her winning way was what supported her family. Valla had never been to school but could read English and spoke it well along with a couple of Indian dialects. She was interesting to talk to but embarrassing to eat with.
It was Valla's smile that drew her to me or me to her, I'm not sure. Beaming in the crowded street she approached me. "Sir, will you buy me rice?" I sort of laughed the request off and gave her a few Rupees.
But in the following days I met Valla time and again and eventually agreed to her request for rice. I bought 25 Kilos of the stuff...too heavy for her and she carried it off in two trips. At the time I thought I had been conned but did not mind too much because it had cost me little and her smiled reward was worth a ransom.
The following day I was given smiles and waves by many of the people sleeping on the streets. When I caught up with Valla, or her with me, I was never too sure how things went, she said "Peter, all the street people pray for you last night. They thank you for the rice." Wow! She had fed them all! She had not looked after just her own. She cared for everybody.
I think I fell in love with Valla at that moment. Not a sexual love but a soul love. I loved this girl for her caring. We spent at least part of the next few days together, I met her family, I met her friends, many of the other street people. But I learned also she was eighteen years old and felt that she was looking at me in a different way.
I needed to escape before people started to read more into a relationship than there actually was. I lied. I said I was moving on.
Valla said to me "Peter, you know what I want more than anything. I want to be like other Indian girls. I would like a silver ankle bracelet." I asked her how much and the money seemed very little. I said I would buy her one before I left the following day.
We met up in the morning and went to the silver shop. The bracelet was twice the amount she had said, so I said sorry. She then asked if I would give her the money I would have spent. I felt I had been conned again but didn't care because I knew that Valla would not be selfish with it.
I said goodbye.
Valla is one of the people I would seek out if I ever won a fortune. I would set her up in business and give her somewhere to live. She would only do good.
A Calcutta Orphan
I was playing in the waves in Kovalam, South India when I met and made friends with an Indian girl. Only she wasn't Indian, she was Dutch. She had been adopted as a baby from an orphanage in Calcutta and taken to Holland. Before this trip she had never been to India, knew nobody here and knew nothing of the languages or culture.
She was 23 years old and travelling alone for two months. She had spent the first two weeks doing voluntary work in Calcutta at the orphanage which had first cared for her.
She loved India and liked Calcutta best. Her journey was an emotional adventure. She felt happy being Dutch but felt she was discovering herself.
Back Home in India
If I had not met the 'Calcutta Orphan' I would not have appreciated my next Indian Girl so much.
Again I met her on a beach, but this time in Goa. Another Indian girl on her first visit to India. She lived in the midlands of England with her parents and grandparents. She was English born and had wanted to visit India since even before she knew what the word actually meant. From the cradle she had been told "India...this" or "Back home in India" or "India.... that". India to her was a magical place full of wonderful places and people. A country of happy memories she shared with her family but had not experienced. There were photographs, books and ornaments each with a story.
She had been in India for two weeks and hated it from the moment she entered the airport. She was suffering culture shock worse than anybody I had met. This was not the India of her dreams. Here there was dirt, strange smells, beggars, poverty, heat. She had found nothing she liked. She could not wait to get back home to England. Her dream shattered.
An Ooty Intellect
I had walked some distance out of Ooty to some temples close to Prasanna Virupaksha when I was approached by two beggar children, a girl of about seven with her five year old brother in tow. I don't know where they came from as there did not appear to be any houses close by and, as far as I could see, I was the only tourist.
The little girl spoke to me first in German and then in French before settling on faultless English. Had I got a school pen? she enquired. As i had not she settled on money which, she assured me she would split fifty fifty with her brother.
They were lovely kids and made me so ashamed of my own poor grasp of foreign tongues. They showed me round the various temples and ruins before taking me up a tower which commanded a view over the whole area. The little girl pointed out that all the walls inside were scrawled in graffiti. I said that it was very bad. She said "Yes, but have you noticed it is all in English?."
Out of the mouths of babes. I felt ashamed.
Given the money I would find these two kids again and support them through their education. They are two who would definitely make a difference.
Travel broadens more than the mind. There are many single girls out there on the road in India. More girls travel alone than men in my experience. I am sure that most return home better people, learning from Indian girls too.
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