Monday, October 6, 2008

India or Bust

When I left Minneapolis and headed for Paris, I had no idea that my trip would include a stopover in India. Ok, so I didn’t actually set foot in the Asian country, but I did the next best thing: I traveled on its airline. Airlines are like a microcosm of the culture from whence they came. The hosts, hostesses, pilots and passengers are often nationals of that country, the food contains elements from back home, the languages spoken over the loud speaker are aimed at a local audience, and even the interior of the plane can inspire thoughts of the homeland. As I happily discovered on a New York - Paris flight, Air India is no different.

Upon boarding the plane, the first thing I noticed was color. Cabin space is usually dull and boring, but this plane was filled with vibrancy. The seats were beautiful reds and golden yellows and female flight attendants were dressed in saris of deep blues and bright greens. Many of the other women on the plane were wearing saris as well and I was envious of their comfortable, flowing outfits, which seemed incredibly practical for a trans-atlantic flight. After settling in, the very handsome Indian man seated next to me struck up a conversation in flawless English. As we chatted about our lives I wondered why, in all my years of flying, was this the day I decided to travel sans makeup? I knew it was time for dinner when the strong scent of Indian food started wafting down the aisles. After a meal of spicy lamb curry and a very sweet orange-hued dessert that I have yet to identify, my new-found travel companion recommended I select a Hindi movie out from the choices on our individual viewing sreens. His selection seemed like a much better option than any of the English offerings (Gold Rush, anyone?), and we both tucked in for the show. He had warned me beforehand that Bollywood likes to use song and dance in most of their movies, and boy do they ever. It was a classic boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-finds-girl tale full of cheesy but exciting musical numbers. I loved it! Touchdown in Paris came with announcements in French, English and Hindi. I can still hear the beautiful rolling sound of India's most well-known language ringing in my ears.

Other than a couple of trips to the Dominican Republic and a border town in Mexico, my travel experience has pretty much been limited to Europe. And while I enjoy learning about the rest of the world, a quest for information about India has never materialized. One six-hour plane ride has changed all that. I'm dying to know more about what makes this place tick! Why does color seem to play such an important role in Indian culture? What does lamb curry taste like when it's not served in a microwavable cardboard tray? What other fabulously cheesy Bollywood movies are out there? In a country of one billion people, how many good-looking men does a girl have to choose from? What the heck was in that neon-orange dessert? The search is on, and I'm hoping the plane ride home will be as enjoyable as the one here. This time, I'm going to at least put on some blush.


Nomadic Matt said...

lol. Well, I'm sure the indian guy didn't mind you without blush.

A good indian movie is Monsoon Wedding. A few years old but very very good.

Tanya said...

Matt: Nice! I'll check that one out. Thanks for the tip.