So I was blessed to have been offered a scholarship to go on an exchange trip to India. I got to study at three prestigious institutions: Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, St Xavier’s College in Kolkata, and TISS in Mumbai. I will always be thankful to my mother and my nani-ji for always speaking to me in formal Hindi and Urdu. Without it, I would not have felt as home, and I would have missed out on the bargaining opportunities at the Janpath bazaars of Delhi!
My special highlight was travelling to my native state, Uttar Pradesh. I come from a proud Kshatriya Hindu family in Lucknow. They had migrated to Fiji. Keen as a bean, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to what would be my second last day in Delhi.
The drive was a mixture of the high rises of Noida alongside UP’s greenery. The juxtaposition could not have been more beautiful. We had a chai break at Mathura. Upon entering the city, and my home state, I touched the ground to ask for the blessings of Lord Krishna. Words cannot describe how touched I was to be in UP.
We arrived at Agra, the old Mughal capital. Since a child, I have admired Shah Jahan, and it was the time to see what he was most famous for. I could not believe my eyes when I first saw the Taj Mahal. It felt like paradise: beautiful gardens, surrounded by freshly mown grass, and a balcony that faces the Yamuna River. You cannot feel the love Shah Jahan had for his empress Mumtaz until you set foot there.
It saddens me to say that this was the first time I had travelled to India. I am still touched by the warmth and kindness of India, its masala chai (proud to say that I drank an average of 6 cups per day!) and everlasting friendships. I encourage my fellow Indians reading this to stay connected to Bharat Mata as strongly as you can. If you do not, you cannot truly know yourself. The beauty has made me an even prouder Indian.
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