In honor of my mother, Linda, this month’s travel post remembers our December 2005 trip to attend my friend’s wedding in Mumbai. We spent almost three weeks together for the wedding and touring around Rajasthan. It was quality mother-daughter time, and we didn’t even fight much…well, not until the last day or so.
Now my mom had never even had Indian food before the trip, so this was a big deal; an entirely new experience. She came to NYC to stay with me the day before we left. We had a spa day and a lovely dinner of Mexican food at Zarela’s (Aaron Sanchez’s mom’s place that he let close when she could no longer manage it) the night before. (We had a steak dinner at Newark airport before leaving too since beef is sacred in India.)
Wanting to protect my mom from the risk of any food-borne illnesses and other discomforts, I booked us in the finest hotels, had guides meet us everywhere and ate in the best restaurants. In Mumbai, we stayed at the Taj Mahal Hotel- before it was the target of a bombing. In New Delhi, we stayed at the Oberoi. In Goa, at the Taj Exotica.
By traveling on the Palace on Wheels, we managed to hit the highlights of Rajasthan in seven days and didn’t have to worry about moving luggage around constantly. We saw Jaipur, the Blue city, the Lake Palace, the City Palace and even a safari, where I almost touched a tiger trying to take a photo and scared the crap out of my mom, before the final stop at the Taj Mahal. We also met an interesting group of people from around the world.
Besides the sights, my mom was most taken aback by the slums and the children begging and beating at the car windows. But she also enjoyed being wined and dined, having saris made for the wedding, getting her hands tattooed with henna, flirting with the Indian men (sorry, Dad) and chatting with everyone.
She kept a travel journal but only managed to note the first three days it seems. That might have been cut short from her bout of food poisoning, which she got from the one place I didn’t pick to eat: the reception.
But I think she had a good time anyway. I know she liked the food for the most part and enjoyed experiencing a culture so very different from hers. But most of all, she was thrilled to spend time with me.
If you haven’t been to India, I’d urge you to make the trip at some point in your life to see all the different regions. I’d still like to make it to Kerala and parts of the north. If you asked my mom what to see, she might have told you just to go to the beach in Goa and the main sights in Rajasthan. She’d also probably tell you to skip the overcrowded and depressing major cities, unless you want to buy a rug. She always had to get some good shopping in.