India my favourite place on earth.
Initially, when asked what my favourite thing in the world, I would always say my daughter. She will always remain my number one. Until her sister is born then she will have to share the top spot.
However, there is a place that had such a massive effect on me, that I have to talk about it. This one place changed my outlook to life, completely. If it hadn’t been for this place, I wouldn’t have even had a family. This place is India.
When I was 22 I was self-obsessed and a consumer animal. At the time I had a brilliant high paid job and lived at home with my parents. The cash I had to spend every month was four figured. Spend I did. The latest jeans, the newest trainers and the flashiest cars. I bought a pair of ripped jeans once for £200 and there was no material.
For my 23rd birthday, my friend said we should do something big. So we booked a holiday to India. Not a sit on the beach holiday, but a holiday to immerse ourselves in the culture.
These are the activities we took part in:
- Sleeping in a hut on the beach
- Searching for crocodiles in the wild
- Feeding wild monkeys
- Hiking to the most amazing waterfalls
- Travelling in an oxen cart
- Swimming with dolphins
- Visiting a spice plantation
- Saw handmaid pots, being made
Although wonderful, the people had the biggest impact on me. Their outlook on life, when they have such limited resources is inspiring. In a country where it is cheaper to hire women to break the rocks up for roads than a machine. The average wage was then 50p a week.
The Indian people have such a genuine nature. They are happy with what they have. They don’t moan about not being able to have the latest phone, but are happy with a small home and enough food.
These children we met on the way down from the spice plantation. They are mountain children. They live wild in the mountains. They wash their clothes in the stream and eat what they can find on the land. How many times have our children moaned about being able to find nothing to eat? The cupboards are full, but their favourite cereal has run out?
We spent a day working in this home. The children lived in a dormitory all together. Each child had a small bed and wardrobe to call their own. They were polite and engaged in all their lessons. They wanted to learn and be in class. These were the luckier children and they appreciated that fact.
India taught me so many lessons. This journey was 20 years ago and I appreciate things have changed there. Even after 20 years though, India has had a lasting effect on me. I am determined to take my daughter back there when she gets to the consumer teenage years.
The biggest lesson I learned is that things don’t make you happy, people and experiences do.
I left a piece of my heart in my favourite once in a lifetime holiday. Thank you, India for making me the person I am today.
Sam H Arnold is a writer and mother. Using her 25 years experience in teaching she offers coaching programs for writers. Stay in touch by joining her newsletter.