Blogs by Mary Terzian
Impressions from a trip to India
2/3/2009 9:09:58 AM
The changes in perspective that occur after visiting a country that was just a location on the map.
I have been back from India and London, for two months now and I am still living in a hypnotic reverie, wondering if it was all real, or was it a figment of my imagination. I honestly think twice before crossing the distance from my living room to the kitchen. What prompted me to take such a long trip at a moment's notice is anybody's guess. Mysterious forces sometimes take hold of you, so that you follow your intuitions without paying any heed to logic. That is what happened to my India venture and I am not sorry.
I now receive invitations, right and left, to speak about my trip to India. It was certainly an interesting travel experience and obviously one that stirs a lot of curiosity. Another segment of the world has opened up in my mind's eye, a huge space that was just a shadow but now full of life. When I listen to the news, and India was very much at the forefront with the recent disturbances in Mumbai, I see vivid pictures instead of hearing words. This is what travel does to you. It opens up a new segment in your brains that had been shut to the world.
The principal purpose for my trip was not tourism, really, but a pilgrimage to old Armenian churches in India. We visited six of them in and around Kolkata (ex Calcutta) and celebrated the 300th anniversary, yes, the 300th anniversary of one of them. There have always been Armenians outside of Armenia proper. The India community, although small in number, about 3000 at its height, was a node in the merchant chain from Isfahan to the Philippines. Their influence was large, sixty years before the East India Company settled in that part of the globe. They were thriving merchants working on the silk route and, at times, collaborating with the Dutch shipping lines as well. The community set up Trust funds for a college, to support the education of the younger generation from other cities in India, as well as from Persia, Armenia and Lebanon. Lately students have been sent from Iraq. Our group included former students who had come to pay homage to their alma mater.
Of particular importance to me was the composition of our group of twentyfour, young and old, give or take a few during different legs of our trip. Our interaction with each other, our moments of laughter and hardship, and the bonds that develop when people live at close quarters for several days made an indelible impression on me. I can safely say that most of my companions shared my feelings. I shudder to think that we could have been victims of aggression now happening in Mumbai, an occurrence not so unfamiliar to me, since I have had a few close encounters with political turmoil before, during, or after my travels. What an interesting book that would make!
Oh, well! Life is to be lived, not feared. Now I find myself clearing up my backlog of correspondence, bills, taxes, repairwork on my home, doctor's appointments and such, and trying to fulfill my obligations within the community. In the meantime I have booked a cruise in January 2010 that will keep me active and kicking.
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