My husband's job involves managing a team in India for a major project. He works in India several times a year for what is never long enough for the team here, and yet too long for us, his family. This year we were able to coordinate to come join him here, allowing him to work directly with this team for several weeks, while seeing us outside of office hours (and late meetings, and office drinks, conference calls, and all the ways these big projects spill into so many other hours).
This is our first time in India. My first time in India. I wanted to visit a long time ago, and was fascinated with stories of India as a child. My parents introduced us to Ghandi and Mother Theresa as heroes early on. In high school I interviewed to go work as a nanny for a missionary family somewhere in India. When they told me that I needed to prepare myself to dress extremely modestly, and learn to keep my eyes lowered to preserve my safety, it struck a painful chord (I had heard that message for long enough in conservative Christianity) and I decided not to go. I was looking for less restriction in my life, not more.
My attraction to India was always a humanitarian one. A desire to help in a place that has extreme poverty. Of course as I've grown up, I've come to realize how complicated and layered those desires are. Growing up I had never heard of White Savior-ism, I didn't know much about colonialism, post colonialism, and neo-colonialism. I just heard about need and wanted to help. So early on, I would have imagined myself living in an orphanage, helping destitute children (our ideals of helping can really be romanticized, can't they?).
Now, here I am actually in India under very different circumstances. Our accommodation is of the highest standard, and our hotel is full of business people, who come to Gurgoan, south of New Delhi, to coordinate work product and further industries. The hotel provides anything we could want or need, and the staff is extremely gracious. It is a true luxury holiday, in what can feel like the most unlikely of settings. There is so much to see, to feel, and to process. I'll muddle through it as best I can, here.