We are on our second day in Bhutan but I still find myself processing India. We traversed the golden triangle for 7 nights and packed a lifetime into the last week. We’ve covered countless monuments, worked in a community kitchen in a Sikh temple, learned about life in these diverse Indian cities, stopped for delicious Masala Chai on the road side (and our guts survived), rode Elephants to the entrance of Amer Fort and purchased our body weight in block print.
I don’t think that I will be able to truly process this last week for a while. Perhaps it is due to the fact that my nerves are shot. The stimulation in India was constant. In a word, India is kinetic. It may take the quiet of Bhutan to enable me to digest it all. It might be months before it truly sinks in.
I’m really curious as to how it will impact the kids longer term. They were both troopers as we had hard charging days and covered 1 train ride, 1 road trip, 3 flights, 4 cities and 4 hotels in the first 9 nights. (This is all before Bhutan.)
One thing that I have observed clearly, however, is the impact on our family. Just 11 days in and our dynamic has changed for the better. The absence of devices has meant actual conversation. Quentin and Amelia are constantly playing cards and made-up games together. They hang on each other, hug and wrestle. In contrast to at home, where they hardly speak to each other anymore and they certainly don’t touch.
There is another variable that is contributing to this as well. We sit down and eat every meal together. 3 times a day we find ourselves around the table, recapping the day before and talking about the day ahead. I once read a book about the happiest families and it stated that sitting down to a meal together is one of the most powerful things that you can do to bond a family. This practice, while somewhat unrealistic when school starts, is coming home with us. It costs no money and it is invaluable.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the people that we have encountered in India. Some of my favorite people back home are from India and my attraction to them is evident here as well.
The people here are so very kind, patient, funny, service oriented, hard working, creative and deep. I am normally an introvert but here, for some reason, I gain energy from interacting with the people. There was Gaurav, who teased Amelia and Q every morning at breakfast at the Lodhi. Sweety, our guide in Delhi, who kissed and hugged us upon her departure. Shanti and Inder, opened their family farm and welcomed us with family and friends for Holi. Their friends instantly accepted us as their own - we joked and laughed with them as if we were with our own friends back home. Shiv, our guide in Jaipur, had a calm and gentle energy, which was easy going and adapted to our curiosity. He made sure that we balanced our days so that everyone was properly entertained. He also gifted us a couple of jokes that I intend to take home with me: I’m Mughal not Google. :) Or the woman and her two girls at Dzurt, who made it a point to introduce herself and her girls (8 and 4) to me and Q. She welcomed us to Jaipur and asked us about where we were from and what we had seen thus far.
In the coming days, we will be posting about Bhutan. We've already had our first night in Thimphu, where we hiked to Chagri Monastery, visited an art school, the textile museum, a Takin preserve (an animal so unique that it doesn't even seem real!) and had our first traditional Bhutanese meal - just to name a few things. The rammed mud houses, dried chilis, colorful textiles and smell of piñon in the air, make is seem strangely familiar - like Taos with Chinese and Indian influences. We leave for The Punakha Valley tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Note: Bandwidth is super limited so photos will have to updated later.