We are especially excited about this month’s featured traveler, Tim, who joined us in India for the Holi festival of color. As someone who grew up in the UK, Tim had invaluable insight and perspective during our tour, since India was a British colony and much of its history is tied to the UK. Tim was born and grew up in the UK and was transferred to California for work when Carter was President. He has spent his entire US life in California where he resides in San Diego with his partner. When not traveling or exercising, Tim can be found volunteering at the San Diego Zoo!
Zoom: Growing up in UK and spending many years in the United States, did your impression of India change with what you were taught about the country in England and US with what you experienced in person?
Tim: Good question! At school in the UK, we were taught about the glories of the British Empire where the “sun never set”. We believed that the UK brought loads of benefits to those living in the colonies. This trip brought it home very clearly that there is indeed another side of the coin. The British colonial empire did give India many positives. But it also imposed many negatives, such as the theft of Indian treasures. Without getting into the pros and cons of colonialism, I now have a better understanding of that other side of the colonial coin!
Zoom: Likewise, did what you just learned about the British occupation while in India match what you learned growing up?
Tim: I learned much more on this trip; that other side of the coin. Whilst I cannot change history, the benefits of colonialism were clearly limited!
Zoom: Did the trip change the way you look at India?
Tim: Oh yes; much cleaner, greener, happier, and with way more history than I had ever fathomed! I loved all of the Karma that exuded everywhere and am still wearing my karma beads! In my next life, I want to be a sacred cow!
Zoom: Any tour of India is going to include discussions about the role of the British in the history of India. Did you feel uncomfortable in any way? How was this handled by our guide and group?
Tim: I never felt uncomfortable! In fact, I sensed that having a slightly different viewpoint from within the group added to the overall happy mix!
Zoom: Did you find India to be inspiring? In what way?
Tim: By golly, yes! As mentioned earlier, India blew away my previous conceptions. It was greener than expected, as too was the air cleaner and the people happier. I loved learning about their beliefs and the karma toward their own eventual destiny. I found the poverty to be much less than expected which left me feeling much happier. I sense that I am still being quite a proponent of travel to India because my experience was so different from my pre-conceptions! If anyone asks me how the trip was, I strongly promote “Incredible India”.
Zoom: How was it traveling as part of a gay group to India?
Tim: First time on a tour at all of any kind as I have always tended to be a solo traveler with self-planning instincts! I could never have visited this part of India without being on a “tour” as this visit required so much coordination and background knowledge of where to go and what to do and why certain items are as they are. I enjoyed the tour mates who were more than willing to warmly welcome a “first-time Zoomer”. As I was not quite the keen shopper as my tour mates, I also did enjoy the group’s flexibility of the go back to the hotel option!
Zoom: You were there for the Holi festival of colors, where we celebrated with the Maharaja of Jodhpur. How would you describe this experience?
Tim: Amazing; I felt so lucky to be a part of that wonderful experience which probably was a once-in-a-lifetime event! I am normally a pretty reserved person, but the Holi brought out in me an unusual “let it all go” attitude. I also found the Maharaja to be very welcoming!
Zoom: Some people are intimidated by the food in India. What were your impressions?
Tim: If you really want my answer on that, I found it to be milder than anticipated as curries in the UK can be a lot spicier! I think that the rest of the world has a lot to learn about the Indian cuisine as a milder curry experience might make others feel more welcoming to a curry! I also enjoyed not having red meat for two weeks! I was grateful that nobody experienced the dreaded “Delhi belly” but do well recognize that Zoom only took us to the best of places which catered to our more delicate palate! I did chuckle that even the peanuts in the cocktail bar had some spicy content in them!
Zoom: We stayed in some pretty glamorous places. Which was your favorite and why?
Tim: Wow; blown away with the accommodations! It will be tough to return to my more self-catering style of travel as every establishment was nothing but supreme luxury! I felt like I was the Maharaja at each overnight stop! As for the best, that is tough to decide upon as they were all so good. But I would select the Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel in Udaipur. I loved the bright and cheerful colors, the beautiful lakeside setting and the expansive grounds!
Zoom: Any other insights you had while traveling that you’d like to share?
Tim: I would like to compliment Zoom on all of the careful planning and superb execution! Not one stone was left unturned as every step was executed with supreme precision! All of the planning showed the extent of your skills in luxury travel. Certainly, this was not a cheap trip. But the value was more than rewarded by the supreme experience of everything that we were so lucky to see, visit or experience! The entire trip was so well complimented by the superbly knowledgeable local guide whose calming dialogue made everything so much better because we understood the ‘where’s, why’s and what’s” that his personal knowledge offered! Five stars all around!