It was exactly a year back, this day we travelled to China.
It did feel quite odd when people whom told of our vacation found the choice of China a bit funny. People travel to Europe, to the Gulf, to the South East, but why China, was the common refrain. We used to hear people advise us on food - we were advised to carry MTR packets. The usual stereotypes were at work - language problems, odd food - snake and insects and what not, and, yes, lots of bicycles.....
But we are glad we got an opportunity to visit China and meet our family there. This was an incredible opportunity to dispel whatever stereotypes we had in our minds. The experiences we had in China were incredible and amazing. It was interesting to see, first hand, the transition that the billion-plus people are in the throes of.
While in Beijing and Shanghai we blended in, into the crowd, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of an incredible blend of tradition and ultra-modernity, we were spellbound by the natural wonders at Zhangjiajie. Here we were the first Yindus that a few locals had seen.
Contrary to the suggestions we got, the trip was a culinary delight. We enjoyed and devoured local fare, downed endless green teas and our MTR packets remained unconsumed. Neeti too enjoyed local fare and that was a real surprise for me too! Surely, our addiction to oolong, green and white tea began after this sojourn.
The people we met on our travel there were no different from us Indians - fun-loving and forward-looking. They seemed to be close-knit, moved around in family groups, were boisterous and enjoyed eating out!
Indeed Chinese women have incredible and flawless skin, something that I kept appreciating throughout the trip, much to Neeti's chagrin! And their kids, little babies were a massive overdose of cuteness! What I found a bit amusing was that the baby dresses had "strategically" located holes for cleaning their bums after they were done with their potty!
And Ni-Hao and Xie-Xie made an entry into our everyday vocabulary and that made a near amusing incident when we thanked the immigration officer with a Xie-Xie on our return into Mumbai, and she was bewildered!
The sounds of Kevin Kendle that we heard on our way there and later on our way back will always ring in my mind when I think of the trip.
It is indeed a sum total of all such experiences that shape one's life! And I would look forward to visiting China again (what we had seen was barely a tip of the iceberg), along with lots of other amazing places that are on my bucket-list! As someone very wisely said: "Take vacations, go as many places as you. You can always make money, you can't always make memories!"