India – The Beginning
why and because of whom we go to India, how we organize and plan this trip and where it takes us
Once upon a time (2014) in a land far away (London) Tsveti was studying practical filmmaking and our communication was mainly through Skype. One fine day, a bit after the first semester started, we talked and among all interesting things, that were happening in her new life, she told me half-joking “We are going to an Indian wedding!”. Her new friends and fellow students Rhea and Karan recently announced that they are planning to get married. It’s all good, but I don’t know neither Rhea, nor Karan.
Life went on and not more than a year later the three of them, Tsveti, Rhea and Karan, were already living and studying in Berlin, where I moved a month earlier. They turned out to be nice people and we quickly became friends.
You see, Rhea is not the typical Indian girl you can imagine. She is funny, compassionate, a real fighter and she is loud, really loud (!), she loves to drink beer and to laugh hard. Most likely, she is like this because she spent a big part of her life in the United States.
Karan, on the other hand, is a short, funny, cynical and extremely generous Indian, who, if things had developed a bit differently in the past, could’ve now be the prince of Burma.
What brings them together is that both Rhea and Karan come from good families (to be read as rich), they are always late, they love cinema and life. We spent together nearly four years in Berlin, filled with many house parties, countless beers in bars and parks, and not one or two dramatic encounters with the outside world.
Life went on and Rhea and Karan had to return to India. Their families were more than happy and finding work in the film business was a child’s game for both of them. One spring day, Rhea sent us a message telling us to call her when we are together. A few days later, passing by not far from the place where Rhea and Karan lived in Berlin, Tsveti remembered we should call her.
From the other side was the enthusiastic and loud voice of Rhea. 5 seconds later we were looking wide-eyed. It’s really happening! “We are getting married!”, Rhea screamed into the headset. We knew it was bound to happen, but this kind of news are somehow always surprising.
“Really? When? Where? How?”, my questions started pouring out of my mouth one after the other. And the reply was making us even more wide-eyed. The date was not set yet, because they needed to meet some sort of spiritual mentor to choose the sacred date. But it was clear that the event will be in India between December and February.
It was also clear that it won’t be the typical wedding that we are used to in Europe. This would be the event that we will talk and remember for a long time. The event for which they’ll spent so much money that no one that I know has ever spent and would never do it for a wedding in their life.
We hung up, looked at each other and it was decided – we are going to India!
India has never been on our bucket list of places to visit soon, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity. Maybe a month or two after, the call with the set date came. Rhea and Karan will get married at the beginning of December and the wedding will last for three days!
Good! But this meant that we need to start planning everything as soon as possible. The questions started falling one after the other. How long we want to stay for? Where else can we go? How much money do we need? What will be the weather like? Do we need any vaccination? What should we know before we leave?
The initial idea was to spend a week in India, which didn’t sound so bad. However, when you open a map of the world and you look at India, your gaze immediately goes to Sri Lanka. It is the country that won the first place of Lonely Planet’s list of must-visit places in 2019. Well, we will go ahead of the events and visit it in 2018.
In the process of getting to know what to do in this part of the world, it became clear that along with Mumbai we definitely should visit at least one more place in India. And also, that we need at least a week in Sri Lanka.
Tsveti had the misfortune to tell me that the Maldives are not far from there. Huge mistake! There are plenty of things I can’t resist. An island country with a tropical climate and blue water is definitely one of them.
In my head, I already knew that there is no way that we will go to India and not visit the Maldives. Tsveti, on the other hand, had a different opinion – it’s boring, it’s expensive, it’s far, it will be too many places to visit for the short time we have.
I was hearing what she was saying, but not listening a single word of it. Whoever knows her generous soul will understand – it did not take long before I convinced her that we MUST go. MALDIVES! MALDIVES! MALDIVES!
It’s all good, but from one-week trip, we ended up planning one month of travelling. This means two things – first the budget skyrocketed immediately and second, they don’t give days off work just for good behavior.
So we started calculating, collecting coins, hunting for cheap flights and thinking of tactics for how to get an extended holiday. In Tsveti’s job is a bit easier to arrange her schedule and be away for longer. Last year she managed to be on holidays for 3 months and get her salary during the whole time. We used the time to make a dream come true – Lazy Road Trip Central America.
For me, achieving this goal did not sound so easy, but it was not impossible either. After coming back from Central America, I started a new job and I still had many days off. On top of this, you can add that we work at a university which like most educational places closes around the Christmas holidays.
All of this helped enormously planning the trip. However, and, you know, there is always a “however”, there was no one that can cover me at work. If your accountant decides to take a vacation before the winter holiday season, without taking care of everyone’s payments, we have a problem.
We chose tickets, which were for exactly one month – from the end of November to end of December, and I prepared a convincing speech for my boss. All went very well and the only condition, which I suggested, was to bring a laptop with me and work for a day or two.
I would finish everything that is urgent and everyone who worked so hard will have full bank accounts before the holidays. I will sacrifice two afternoons, but I’ll be on a month-long journey. We have a deal!
We booked the tickets, bought some new gadgets for traveling (amazing packing cubes). Also got guides for India and Sri Lanka and began counting the days until the next Lazy Road Trip Asia. First stop – Mumbai, India.