Smoothly my plane landed on the tarmac of Amritsar that morning. As I looked out of the window, I felt excited but very tired. It had been a long trip already, “how could have a I’ve been so stupid in all my research for this trip, not one time I had care to think about a visa”. I had wanted to board the plane in London.
I was told, “No Sir I cannot let you board this plane but there are two things you can do! You can go back to the Netherlands, or you apply for a visa here in London”. “How long do you think it will take, for me to get the visa here”, I asked? An Indian man next to me replied, “it took me two days”.
I thought, “OK two days London, could be fun”! However, when I finally received my visa after 11 days, in a freezing London, all the fun had left my body.
I got out of the plane, let my body soak up the Indian heat, and started the long walk to a glorified shed, where I had to go through customs. Getting through customs was a breeze; I only carried hand luggage so I was the first person that was welcomed by a group of 50 taxi drivers whom all wanted to be of service to me. I had to disappoint them because my eye was on a chauffeur in the back who was holding up a piece of paper with my, misspelled, name on it. With a reaffirming smile, I greeted him. He smiled back and asked me, “no luggage no? Come I taxi”. As I wanted to open the driver’s side door he gestured to go to the opposite side. “Oh of course they drive here on the wrong side”.
While my new taxi driving friend was busy dogging small children, holy cows, tuck tucks, trucks, and lots of potholes, I had the time to sit back and take in the views of the Indian outback. As I looked out at the far stretching fields of green, I could not help to notice the feeling of familiarity as if I was driving true my home town.
After we had a short break, to fix a flat tire and to have some delicious Indian street food, we both got back in the car. Although the scenery was magnificent I started to feel very sleepy my eyes started to feel heavy.
The car radio was playing music in an Indian language that was for me impossible to understand. I closed my eyes and nodded off. I could not really fall asleep because every time my head nodded foreword towards my chest I would frighten myself awake again.
All the while this was happening I could still hear the Hindi music in the background and I found myself in the world between awake and sleeping. The Hindi music got translated inside my head into an understandable Dutch so, inside my head, I was listening to a beautiful duet between a man and a woman whom where very much in love with each other. Of course I remember thinking, “wow this is so neat, I’ve got my own inner translator this trip is going to be a breeze”. I won’t have to worry about not understanding anyone while I’m in India. Sadly enough after I was fully awake; I was back to not understanding a word that was said.
However, my life did not go back to normal fully because after that moment in the taxi the feeling of, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”, has been with me, with every single person I have seen since that day. And that has been going on for over 15 years now.