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In December 1920, my mother was born in Dharamsala, in what was then the Punjab, Northern India.
Our trip to Amritsar was everything we could have hoped and more!
Leaving Heathrow on a wet, cold evening, we boarded our aircraft and the staff in their beautiful Saris gave a hint of what was waiting for us in Sri Lanka.
Colombo is a hectic city where the beautiful old Colonial buildings vie with the skyscrapers. Leaving our hotel on the first night, we walked a short way to view the Navam Perehera procession. For two hours we were entranced by drum bands, dancers, acrobats, fire eaters and fifty elephants parading in dazzling traditional costumes.
The rich, opulent and sumptuous world of the Mughals awaits any explorer wishing to feast their eyes on some exquisite treasures. The doors have opened on this great dynasty, which was soaked with wealth, glory and bloodshed, its culture and art kept preserved as if frozen in time. The British Library invites you to their much talked about exhibition, which weaves the Mughals’ tale through the displays.
As she enters the tented ballroom, there are gasps of admiration from the dancers inside. Heads turn to admire the shimmering beauty before them. She steps gently into the room, perhaps a shade of candyfloss pink lingering on her china doll-like face. Her brown velvet eyes twinkle as she smiles, whilst someone stationary in the corner whispers “What a dream she looks”. You have just glimpsed Lady Curzon and her peacock dress.
What better way to experience a country than by traveling its highways and byways by car? Driving allows one to see not just notable sights, but also where people live, work and play—places off the tourist track.
The lights flickered on, and slowly the items began appearing from the dark. Dust rested on the surfaces as if the place was awaking after a thousand years. It was like Aladdin’s cave. Everything was glimmering, but it was not gold or silver - it was blue. All shades of blue from the colour of a summer’s sky to the dark ink of a fountain-pen. The palette belonged to the famous blue pottery of Jaipur, in Rajasthan.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor, I am surrounded by travel books and an open atlas. A squeal of excitement bubbles up inside my chest. The prospect of travelling gives me a thrill, thanks to the travel bug which bit me a few years ago. My hand comes to rest on India, my fingers gliding across the paper where the country is printed. There is almost a magnetic force; a connection.