Life starts when you think it’s the end – For me life started again in India

When I made a decision that a certain man was going to be my life – and he didn’t see it the same way – he pulled my life right out from under me.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such pain before. The empty feeling of helplessness consumed me. I did nothing but lie around and cry. Food didn’t taste good anymore, a cliché that became true for me. I lost 7kg in a month, down to about 52-53kg. The only bonus was that I felt hot! You become self-centred when you’re depressed. Nothing but you and your pain matters. My heart was broken, yeah, big whoop, some people can’t put dinner on the table! But at the time, it’s all that mattered.

I needed to get away. To escape the pain. To find normality again. To find me. I had been saying to him for years that I wanted to travel. He never wanted to go anywhere, and work was always in the way – unless it was a surf trip with the boys – there was always time for that. I came second. So now it was my turn to put me first. I booked a month-long holiday.

First stop: India

India was an incredible culture change, not a shock. Some people describe it as being somehow disconcerting and they don’t like seeing the poverty. I didn’t mind it. It’s probably odd to say that… But Indian people in general, seem to be really happy. Maybe it’s a poverty thing. You are happy with your lot in life. So much so that seeing a tourist with a digital camera gets you excited. As does playing cricket with a stick and empty coke can. It put my broken heart into perspective for me.

We, my sister and I, started in Mumbai, the bustling city famous for it’s slums which line the border of the airport, so you can’t miss them from the second you land. We spent our days walking around the beautiful old British architecture engulfed by mangroves that were slowly reclaiming the land. On other days we’d venture to the new part of town. The difference was extreme! Shiny new skyscrapers filled with suited or stunning sari’ed business people – and less than a kilometre away dirty children begged for money from their slum.

Mumbai smells. It’s like a heady mix of delicious spices and human excrement. At first, it’s quite overpowering, but after a few days you get used to it. Then you can enjoy the flavours of the city with delicious dosas, amazing Thalis and the most delicious kulfi eaten down alley-ways on crates.

Part of the trip led us down the coast to Kerala, and a little town called Varkala. It was a bit of a hippy town, with white Europeans who had since made it their home, wandering around in their Indian ‘happy-pants’. I had my palm read here by a local Indian. He was quite matter-of-fact about it all, including when I would die – 72 for the record. I was also told I would get divorced, after a marriage when I’m 34, and have 1 daughter who was going to move overseas leaving me all alone after the divorce… Nice. He seemed to think that this man that had broken my heart might come back. I couldn’t see it happening and at this point, I rather hoped not! I was in another stage of grieving I suppose, the ‘If he doesn’t want me then I don’t want him!’ stage.

An interesting thing for you to do..

I also had an interesting massage here…. It was called an ayurvedic massage, and it’s completely nude (I know us Australians are a bit conservative but…. I wasn’t comfortable). I was told to sit on a plastic chair while she poured oil on my head and massaged my scalp. All the while I couldn’t stop thinking about who elses ‘bits’ had been pressed against this plastic chair! Then I laid down on a plastic moulded ‘bed’ with more oil, and rubbed from top to toe, my pelvic muscles tightening with each swipe of the massage hand on my inner thigh. I think by the end of it I was more tense than at the beginning!

We made our way up the coast of Kerala, which means ‘palm tree’, and they were everywhere! Palm trees as far as the eye could see, with beaches filled with rotting coloured fishing boats, or ports filled with fishermen casting their Chinese fishing-boat nets for tourists to pay to have a go at (which was quite fun).

We also discovered street-side parotta which is like an Indian version of a croissant. One of the highlights! Delicious! And nowhere I’ve found since can make them like they make them in Kerala. Flakey, buttery goodness!

We ventured to a gift shop, which sold everything a tourist could possibly want (a taxi driver took us there – they all get a cut), and tried on Sari’s. While they really didn’t suit me, the women wearing them in India look beautiful! The man in the shop thought it did suit me as it happened, and he ended up paying us a visit later that night at our home-stay and inviting me to dinner! I gratefully declined and was a little nervous by the fact that he had known where we were staying! Good security girls!

This was just the beginning of my trip, yet there was a bounce in my step that had been absent before. Was it the perspective that India had brought me, or the escape-from-your-life experience that any holiday brings you. I’m not entirely sure – but this was only 10 days in. With 20 more, there was a whole lot more learning to be done, and 4 more countries to visit! Bring it on!

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