Anneke with Sudarshan, September 2012

I’ve been back from lovely India for a few days now and am now trying to settle back in my life here. Returning from India to the Netherlands feels like a bigger change than when I departed the Netherlands for India. I have had a great time!

I have spent almost three weeks in India, and for ten days I have travelled with Sudarshan through Rajasthan. Because I was travelling alone this seemed like the best way to confront India’s seeming chaos, and to have someone to talk to as well.

At first, we had to get used to each other: when driving for long periods of time, just with us two in the car. But we had many interesting conversations and I could ask him about anything that popped up in my head. Sudarshan knows a lot! As we got used to each other we became more comfortable, and our conversations grew more personal.

I also had to reconcile myself to some local habits and customs. Whenever I visited somewhere, Sudarshan stayed around waiting for me, which always makes me feel a little awkward. The fees he could receive by pointing me to the ‘right’ stores, guides, restaurants and hotels are an inescapable part of India’s tourism sector. As long as we could talk about these things, however, we both knew where we stood. (Sudarshan provided more advice without getting fees for it than he did while being paid these bonuses, however!)

It took a while before I understood about the hotels. If Sudarshan arranges a hotel bedroom for me, he can sleep cheaply in the hotel as well. But when I book a room, he cannot sleep cheaply in the hotel. I was anxious at first to leave the hotel choice to him, but we always talked about it, and I (almost) always ended up in a great place.

We agreed about changing the planned route, and Sudarshan knew how to find nice spots to visit I would otherwise have missed. Because I had already booked hotel rooms in two places ahead of my vacation, we were not entirely free to choose the new route. Next time, I won’t arrange too much beforehand, to be more at liberty. His advice was definitely worthwhile!

We have had a very nice and pleasant time together. When he dropped me off at Agra Railway Station, from where I would continue my journey alone, I knew I was going to miss his company.

Sudarshan, thanks a lot once again. And Rob, thanks to you as well, for your mediation and active cooperation.