A few days ago I got back from a two week holiday in India. I say ‘holiday’ but it wasn’t one of your typically relaxing breaks.
Three big fat Indian weddings, three birthday celebrations and a religious function for my late-grandma, were all crammed into the space of our relatively short stay. At one point there were 28 of us all staying in our family’s villa. Yes that’s right, 28! The queues for the bathrooms in the mornings were never-ending, as you can imagine. And privacy was pretty much non-existent. You could be half naked, in the middle of getting dressed, and five people would haphazardly burst into the room like a parade of unannounced headless chickens, panicking over something trivial like misplaced earrings or a lack of safety pins! And then of course the electricity would always randomly go, most often it seemed, when all of the women were attempting to get ready. So if a group of girls ran down the stairs, hot and bothered, straighteners in hand, one side of their hair looking glossy and styled and the other resembling a tangled bird’s nest, you knew that the electricity was temporarily out. Owing to the constant hustle and bustle, there was also rarely ever time to sit down and enjoy a proper meal. Instead stomachs were placated with heavy, oil and sugar-coated snacks (typical Indian wedding food) and a minimum of four/five insanely sweet cups of tea a day (yum!). When it came to sleeping arrangements, they varied every night. One night six of us would be snugly squeezed into a bedroom inside and the next we’d all be booted outside onto the terrace to make room for the constant stream of unfamiliar (and self-invited) guests. Chatting and watching the stars from our wicker beds, sprays and creams did nothing to save us from being attacked by the swarms of angry and relentless mosquitoes. They pined after our ‘foreign blood’, we were told by all of our India-born and raised relatives; our blood had somehow been proven to be sweeter than their, supposedly bland-tasting, native blood… Hmmm ok, if you say so guys!
Now whilst many of these points may sound off-putting to most, in essence they are the reasons why I loved my trip to Punjab! Call me crazy but I relished the fact that I could never predict what was going to happen next. It was so ridiculously unconventional and so far from relaxing that I wanted to stay for longer and remain within the chaotic madness. And that’s because by the end of our stay the chaos and madness had become the norm and now life back home in England just seems so slow and boring in comparison! There was no time for niceties or awkwardness there, everyone was family (well I assumed so anyway). There was no treading on egg shells with one another or minding about anyone’s ‘feelings’ or individual needs… no one had time for any of that! I’d wrestle with my younger cousins and engage in sarcastic banter with those of my age, and I loved it. I became so attached to them all that I couldn’t help but well up when I left, even though it’s only the second time that I’ve ever come face to face with a lot of them in my entire life! Crazy, I know. The bond that we share is a strange but strong one. Regardless of whether we manage to go five years without speaking or seeing each other, the banter and jokes never take longer than five minutes to start up again! And that’s how it is whenever I venture back to my ancestral village in Punjab. I always get so caught up in my surroundings and the simplistic, but fun, lifestyle that my family members lead out there, that I don’t want to return to reality.
A two week break from social media and my iPhone was also just what the doctor ordered. When I arrived back in London on Saturday night I felt as if an invisible weight that I’d unknowingly been carrying around since before I went away had magically been lifted from my shoulders. Everything was put into perspective and I realised just how much I value and need my family in order to be the best version of myself (even though they can drive me up the wall for the most part!).
So here’s hoping that I’ll have the good fortune of enjoying many, many more unconventional holidays such as this one in the future, because in spite of all of the chaos it truly was a unique and unforgettable experience. 🙂