My Indian love affair is far from over

2010-10-06 00:00

IT is with great sadness that I announce the end of my Indian sojourn.

Although I was only gone for a week, for some odd reason I’ve had trouble adjusting back to my peasant way of life.

A girl could get used to five-star dining, a butler service, bargain shopping sprees, seven-course meals three times a day, a chauffeured luxury liner — well, you get my drift.

It’s no wonder I gave everyone who asked how I was finding India the same response, namely: “I love it. I don’t want to leave.”

But fond memories can never be erased and goodness knows I have plenty of those.

One particular memory involves me slithering away from the group after we arrived back at the hotel following a strenuous day.

We had 45 minutes to go back to our rooms and get ready for our next outing, which happened to be a dinner date with our sponsors, but while everyone else went to get ready what did I do?

I saw an opportunity for another shopping spree.

So off I went, pulling an empty trolley suitcase behind me, while I worried whether I would make it back in time.

No sooner had the merchants spotted me — a black chick in India doesn’t quite blend in with the locals — than their fight for my attention began.

Merchant: “Where are you from?”

Me: “South Africa.”

Merchant: “Ahhh! Special price for South Africans!”

Yeah right.

They probably say “special price” regardless of which country you say you come from. But silly me, I actually fell for that line.

It was only after a fellow journo pointed out that everyone was told the same thing that I realised it was a smart move designed to reel me in.

Well, it worked.

But those merchants had no idea who they were dealing with. Shoes, bags, neckpieces, hand-sewn pashminas, T-shirts, handmade peacock fans, earrings, sneakers, perfume — you name it, I probably bought it.

But I’m proud to say that I managed to discount my way through all my purchases. And in record time, too.

I made it back to the hotel just as the delegation was meeting our sponsors from The Taj.

Sincerest apologies to my dearest colleague: dude, I didn’t get the bong. I tried. Really.

Now for the food.

I’m surprised that I didn’t come back the size of a bus considering how much I ate.

As I said to a companion: “When we get back home they’ll be like, ‘What happened to you? You were only gone for a week!’”

And being driven everywhere really did not help the situation.

Neither did the fact that we were given snacks everywhere we went.

Said one of the Taj Hotel’s marketing people: “It’s part of Indian culture and hospitality. They pile your plate with food until you can’t eat anymore.”

Not that different from South African Indians, clearly.

But while my waistline did not expand as much as I thought it would have, I’ll still be living off water and fruit for the next two months. Just in case.

So while the journey has officially come to an end, the love affair has not.

As a tribute to all things Indian, I have vowed to wear a different pair of harem pants — purchased in India, of course — every day this week.

The first pair, which I wore on Monday, was a great source of amusement to my deputy news editor.

“You’re wearing Hammer pants,” he said, amid uncontrolled fits of laughter.

For those who don’t know, MC Hammer was a famous American rapper from the 90s who only wore harem pants pulled up to his chest accompanied by tiny waistcoats.

Eish… four more days to go.

• Sanelisiwe Shamase travelled to India courtesy of Jet Airways, which recently launched daily flights between South Africa and India. The media trip focused on trade, economic, cultural and historical ties between the two countries, as well as the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in South Africa.

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