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Mother-Daughter Bonding at the Taj: Travelling India

The seeds of my India trip began almost a year ago, when I asked my mother what sight she would want to see in her lifetime but was nervous about visiting alone. “The Taj!” she exclaimed almost immediately.

by Jodi Ettenberg Posted on 03 March 2014

The seeds of my India trip began almost a year ago, when I asked my mother what sight she would want to see in her lifetime but was nervous about visiting alone. “The Taj!” she exclaimed almost immediately. “I’d love to see the Taj but I don’t think I’ll make it to India.” My mum loves to travel but never got a chance to do so the way I did – without set end points or fixed plans. So for her birthday, I thought I’d take her with me somewhere exciting. There was just the question of where.

She made it easy with her Taj comment, but convincing her to join was another matter. At first I suggested that she and I go together, but news from the region was less than positive for female travelers, and she protested. We struck a compromise when I suggested we take a G Adventures trip together – me in the role of Wanderer in Residence and her joining as official “Mother-in-Residence.”

The Taj Mahal! It was pouring rain that day, meaning that while we got soaked, there were almost no other tourists there. Those who arrived did so a bit later. We lucked out for pictures, less so for warmth.

The Taj Mahal! It was pouring rain that day, meaning that while we got soaked, there were almost no other tourists there. Those who arrived did so a bit later. We lucked out for pictures, less so for warmth.

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We decided on a Comfort level trip, since it was both her 65th birthday and her first trip to the subcontinent. She’s a historian, so the Land of the Maharajas accommodations – old havelis (mansions) with stories of their own – were compelling. And I was reminded that Comfort level trips can include older demographics – perfect for my mum. True to form, our trip ended up being quite small, with another woman my age and the rest of the group my mum’s age.

I’ve written at length about the good, the great and the ugly from my time in Rajasthan. As my blog post is almost 4500 words, I thought I would stick to pictures for my write up here. Overall, it was exactly what we would have wanted or needed: the structure to give my mum peace of mind in getting from A to B and removing the touts and hassles that often stress you out in the region; a chance to ask questions about history and culture; an introduction to food but also the freedom and time to go out and explore on your own.

While some of the group opted to shop, I’d drag my mum for street food meals in markets instead, picking busy stalls with freshly made goods. We had chai tea on the side of the road, dosa (lentil flour pancake) in a parking lot, and the most amazing lassi (yoghurt drink) that I still dream of months later.

When people write me to ask if they ought to travel somewhere because it scares them, I often recommend taking a tour first then staying on after it ends. That way you are comfortable with the destination but have the added benefit of more confident exploration after it is over. While this was my first time in India, I’m grateful for the time I had with a guide and a group, and look forward to a return alone – this time to the South – in coming years.

Jama Masjid (Delhi’s largest and most well-known mosque), in the cloudy afternoon light.

Jama Masjid (Delhi’s largest and most well-known mosque), in the cloudy afternoon light.

Orange vendor in Old Delhi

Orange vendor in Old Delhi.

Hand-dying fabric in Chandelao, Rajasthan.

Hand-dying fabric in Chandelao, Rajasthan.

Natural dyes for fabric in Chandelao.

Natural dyes for fabric in Chandelao.

Palace of Winds, Jaipur

Palace of Winds, Jaipur

Old city gates in the late afternoon light, Jaipur.

Old city gates in the late afternoon light, Jaipur.

Clambering up to the roof of the Amber Fort, Jaipur

Clambering up to the roof of the Amber Fort, Jaipur.

The incredibly intricate Red Fort in Agra.

The incredibly intricate Red Fort in Agra.

Another of the Agra Red Fort from inside its walls. So beautiful.

Another of the Agra Red Fort from inside its walls. So beautiful.

Carved marble at the Ranakpur Jain temple outside of Udaipur.

Carved marble at the Ranakpur Jain temple outside of Udaipur.

View of the main square in Udaipur.

View of the main square in Udaipur.

Making new friends in downtown Udaipur.

Making new friends in downtown Udaipur.

Lakeside in Udaipur, a beautiful view.

Lakeside in Udaipur, a beautiful view.

Jodphur: India’s blue city.

Jodphur: India’s blue city.

Camel country. Mandawa, Rajasthan.

Camel country. Mandawa, Rajasthan.

A beautiful cow in downtown Bikaner.

A beautiful cow in downtown Bikaner.

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