India Illuminates

I had a great time in India. As we travelled up north, I loved how the people, language & food changed. On the Indian train, we befriended some locals & they offered us food. People were friendly & warm. The multitude of different cultures which unites India makes it beautiful & unique. I loved the music & there was a rhythm to India.

Poverty was a novel & difficult experience which made me feel helpless. It was hard to see child beggars & groups of children picking up rubbish at the crack of dawn. It made me think of my grandparents & the reason they left India for Malaysia to seek a better future. I loved my grandparents & they always spoilt me even though they didn’t have a lot. I thought of my mother & how life was difficult for her. My life is a stark contrast to everything they had & I have grown up knowing this. I suppose, the extent of poverty never really registered in my life in such close proximity until I saw it in India. A mother came up to Subhen, asking him to buy her milk for her child. He went to the shop with her & was surprised to find that milk formula costs a lot of money. Although he put on a brave face, I know poverty affected him equally. Most of the time, I was handing out biscuits & sometimes money. I don’t know if what I did was right, but what stayed with me was their faces. I still remember them: that girl who boarded the bus asking for money.

I am usually an extremely paranoid person but I felt safe in India. Probably due to the fact that I had Subhen for company who sometimes joked that he was my body guard & occasional bag porter. I am grateful to have found an awesome travel companion. I could not have asked for better. I learnt about Indian culture history & Hinduism from him. He taught me how to hike by telling me to “trust my feet”. Encouraging me to go white-water rafting when I was having doubts. Making me eat when I really didn’t feel hungry because I was scared or exhausted. He was always there, keeping me grounded & taking perfect care of my well being. Such a friend is hard to come by & I remain grateful.

awesome friendship in jeep to Leh singing Hindi songs.

Awesome friendship in jeep to Leh singing Hindi songs.

Travelling India was a revelation: different facets of my personality I never knew existed surfaced. I learnt that I often underestimate my abilities, I love the thrill of bargaining, I enjoy hiking & that I am tough. I can deal with dirt as long as I have antibacterial wipes. I wear a hoodie in public transport because I don’t want to touch anything. I only sleep in my sleeping bag or cotton liner. I don’t use any pillows. I deal with uncertainty by laughing it off. Hiccups are part of the journey. I can be present & look for beauty in unexpected places. I’m great at packing & organized. I always have food, a head torch, chapstick, plasters & perfume with me.I am brave & real growth happened when I stepped out of my comfort zone. I am finally moving towards the things that I wanted to do, disregarding fear.

Heroine seeking adventure.

Heroine seeking adventure.

A random stranger I met before my trip said, “India beckons when you need it the most & it will be revelatory”. He was right.

India illuminated my life- gave me perspective about myself & the lives of others. I felt connected & curious about the culture. Since then, I have read a short book about the brief history of India & I am completely fascinated with Indian history, art & culture.


A far cry from learning repetitively about  “Tamadun Islam” also known as Islamic Civilization & only 1 year to learn about world history. Don’t misinterpret, I do not mind learning about Islamic civilisation but we spent a disproportionate amount of time on it. Ah, I’m just pleased I’m free from mental torture, time to educate myself about the world.

Malaysian History Syllabus.

Malaysian History Syllabus.

After travelling India, I felt ready to start the next phase of my adventure, to travel solo in Europe.


  1. Beautiful. Jo, you’ve grown so much, And lived. So few of us can honestly say that. I wish I could do what you did. Our society dictates and expects so much from us, that we sometimes forget about what’s important. X

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