We never expected that our travels would not just take us to some of the most amazing places in the world but get us acquainted with some of the most amazing people. Last year, almost everywhere we went, we met someone who inspired us to be come better people.
I'll mention a few here who blew us away with their hospitality and warmth.
First was Ayesha and Arshad in Delhi and of course their whole family. Sai has known Arshad for eons but they hardly kept in touch, but when we were going to Delhi and Sai called him, he wouldn't hear of us staying anywhere other than with him!! The wonderful time we had in Delhi would definitely have not been possible without them. We had their car and driver at our disposal, them to pore over books and the net telling is where all to go, mouth watering food at his house and both Ayesha and Arshad taking time off from their busy schedules to take us to all the wonderful restaurants!! We can never thank them enough!!
In Thekkady, we had sweet, tireless Narayan as our guide during our trek through the forest. Though he initially scared us about elephants and bears and even tigers, all we got to see was elephant dung, bear poop and no sign of any tiger but he kept us so enthralled with his stories that we didn't mind one bit!! All the leeches that were there ( and they seemed esp attracted to me!!) were also not dampening his enthusiasm in any way!! Cheers to Narayan!!
Leh has way too many instances of people being unbelievably sweet!! First were all the army officers and soldiers at the mess we stayed in!! We didn't get to see the night life in Leh but the officers made sure that we had the best of time!! I never knew that the army was one with such jovial individuals working in the middle of snow and ice to keep all of us safe!! I salute you all!!
We also got acquainted with the charming owner of a wonderful restaurant in Leh - La Pizzaria. He went out of his way to drop us back to the army mess in his car when we couldn't get taxis or any other form of transport to get back. This after having met us all of twice!! We of course went back there again and again!! :)
In Srinagar, we were taken around by the owners of Gulfam - a quaint little houseboat in Dal Lake. Forgetting their names but not just did their dad make the most amazing amazing food ever (my mouth water just thinking about it!!) but they were our guides in Srinagar. Will always go back there and will recommend anyone going to Srinagar to stay with them!!
We went to Siliguri for the Pooja holidays....to our friends parents house and I've not known such hospitality anywhere else!! Datta uncle and auntie were so so nice to us!!
We went to Calcutta from Siliguri by train and since it was the last day or pooja, we had to get to the station really early.....waiting in the crowded station for more than 5 hours, a long train journey and 25 days of continuous travel had totally tired us out.......till we met Dan Inamoto. He was travelling to Calcutta too and in the morning, we got talking!! Dan is of Japanese descent but living and working in New York. He is a total travel person and comes to India at least once a year. We realised that hes been to way more places in India than we have!! The only thing we had which made him envious was our trip to Jammy and Kashmir ( oh and how we told him what he'd missed!!). Both of were fully recharged after meeting him and ready to journey on and on!!
Sai is a member of the jeep thrills community ( he loves his jeep and the group is for enthusiasts to go on off roaders and trips together and to talk endlessly about their beloveds!! ) and he has been talking about Mr Uday Bhan Singh this and Mr Singh that for some time now. When he suggested that we visit him, i was uncomfortable at first. We had had a loong train journey and had gotten out at Calcutta only to have spent half the morning 'sight - seeing' and to go to anyones home in that state was unthinkable for me......but after pestering me about it for sometime and seeing that we'd already gone through most of Calcutta in our last visit, i complied. I am really really glad i did because i met some of the warmest, sweetest people ever that day!! Uday sir, showed us all his jeeps (he has 43 of them) and told us so much about them that i was totally hooked by the end of it!! We had our lunch with him and his wonderful family and i will forever not forget how welcome they made us feel!! (that could not have been easy since we most definitely must have looked like hell!! ).
There were many many more people who I've not talked about but all of them gave us such rich lessons in life.....made us such better people!! I cant thank them all enough!!