The Indian Express

There are two places at any given time – the start and the end. India for instance, is a very different place when you first set your eyes on it; and a very different place when you say goodbye.

Behind a Cycle Rickshaw

Behind a Cycle Rickshaw

When travellers land, they are overwhelmed and exhausted. Next day begins the sightseeing – Qutub Minar, Hawa Mahal, Agra Fort – and bit by bit, they start to unravel a mystery. They drive from one location to the next, observing the stark differences – the infrastructure between Central and South Delhi, for example, with AIIMS marking a very distinct border. They peer into the auto rickshaws, from the driver to the diversity of people on the back seat. Some of them are families – a mother, father and a couple of kids squeezed onto a single bench – and others are professionals in suits, or a group of girlfriends, enjoying a day out. Slowly, in this manner, objects take shape, people find voices and a black & white blurry image reveals an array of colours, in high definition.

The Golden Temple, Amritsir

The Golden Temple, Amritsir

Luxury travel adds another layer to understanding. A lot of travellers recognize the many different types of lives that coexist side by side. The hotels offer roof top infinity pools, exquisite views of acres of forest land or a golf course, five star restaurants (Megu, Suvarna Mahal, Ziya – you name it, you can find it) – and then they are transported outside the gates. Through the window, they once again remember the difference between India and anywhere else in the world. People here have a freedom like nowhere else, in goods ways and in not so good ways. They talk loudly, sit together on the side of the road with a hot cup of chai between their palms; it’s a community life. Women as well as men work as beggars, laborers, professionals, entrepreneurs, politicians; and their clothes are different – layer after layer of drapes that seem to gently mold into the environment.

The Maharaja Express

The Maharaja Express

For every traveller, we offer a combination of three exclusive ingredients – the people, the culture and the lifestyle – and believe it or not, luxury only facilitates the process. For we understand, India is unique country. Before 1947 in fact, it wasn’t even a country and now, there are groups of communities living together; sometimes in harmony, sometimes in disagreement. Nevertheless, there is a common understanding, and anyone who spends even a week begins to feel part of it. I can’t tell you what the common understanding is, because they are not words.

Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park

This understanding is the essence of everything here – from the Sufi singers at Nizamuddin Dargah and the man sharpening his tools using the wheels of a bicycle, to the women on the roadside selling clay pots or even, the National Gallery of Modern Art. All of them may sound worlds apart and yet they share this distinguished truth. I suppose the only words that can describe it are Genuineness, Authenticity, Sincerity, and the Divine. All of this is an experience – from start to end – it is dynamic and exhilarating. And when it comes to leaving, I guarantee you: you will feel like never before. Like you have a home away from home, because in a place like India – and the history certainly reinforces this fact – there exists a place for All.

This is the Indian Express.

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