Setting off on my new adventures meant many ‘firsts’ for me. My first international flight, had only been on a small 4 seater for a twenty minute joyride in my late teens. First time in a hotel, we always camped, and a delayed flight meant a stay at The Ashoka in Delhi charged to the airline. Remarkably my first time ever of having a room to myself … it would be a very long time before that happened again.
Then to top it all off I flew into Kathmandu on the morning of my 21st birthday, seeing the Himalayas for the very first time! They really looked like clouds until I realised it was snow peaks stretching above the clouds. I returned for many treks and a Tibetan partner and would later live in HP in the Himalayas but not for sometime to come.
My first impressions of India were the strong smells, intense heat and plethora of vultures. Years later at a zoo I asked what birds we were looking at. My friends laughed and said they were ‘vultures’ but I must have seen many in India … none were as plump and well fed as these majestic zoo captives.
Another first for me was all the attention from staff at airports, the hotel, wherever I ventured. It truly felt like there was about ten Indians to attend each foreign or wealthy visitor. Initially this was extremely uncomfortable for me, from a poor background we’d had to be independent. It was not until after much contemplation and my second visit that I understood this was more gracious than begging. So I kept sufficient change to ensure I spread the generosity.
As I read through my mail to trigger memories for these ‘snippets’ I see clear indications that my family were not so interested in my travels. My first letters and postcards were detailed like a diary but later ones focused entirely on family with the only brief references to actual location. Fortunately those overland travels to UK and then returning overland through the Middle East were highlights and have been well documented. Along with details of fellow travellers and the unique characters I met along the way.