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First Trip to India

I found it fascinating that so many people who have visited India all told me varying degrees of the same thing. They said it’s a country of harsh extremes and that you will either love it or hate it, but you’ll be sure to take something away with you, whether it’s a lesson in gratitude or simply a different way of seeing the world. I couldn’t have agreed more. One of the first people I saw when my hotel car stopped at a traffic light was a well-dressed gentleman in a suit waiting to cross the road. Crouched on the pavement, by contrast was a woman sitting in a sari beneath the bridge. It made me sad that she looked almost elegant but she probably had no access to a shower because her clothes were covered in a film of dust and sand. Somehow, our eyes connected and she smiled and I was very humbled by the fact she could still find it within herself, in the cold of winter to smile at a total stranger passing her by. My car was already moving past the bridge and I waved at her wishing I could do more, and at the same time reminding myself to always be grateful because whatever problems you think you have, pales in comparison to not having a roof over your head. The next thing, which struck me, because I jumped in alarm at the blare of a horn right beside our hotel taxi, was how the constant beeping and tooting of horns on the street was so normal, that it was almost a cultural backdrop of life here. It was literally the ‘sound’ of India, which would have been considered a sign of frustration or road rage anywhere else in the world but our driver hardly batted an eyelid at this cacophony of noise around us so I settled back into my seat and surrendered to the beeps, all the way back to my hotel. IMG_8012 Once you let go of all the expectations you come with from your country of origin, the scene changes and I was suddenly taking in all these sights and sounds, excited that I was embarking on yet another new adventure. IMG_7671 IMG_7937 The beautiful Westin Gurgaon hotel I was staying at felt like another world away from India’s dusty streets and it was such a contrast that it makes you appreciate the immaculate cleanliness and beautiful grounds of this hotel even more. IMG_7865 I turned in early and it was the best decision I could have made. When you go to bed early, it’s much easier to rise early so I was up first thing in the morning and feeling well rested after all that travelling. It wasn’t easy to leave the warm cuccoon of my incredibly comfortable mattress but I was already excited to head to the poolside to do a bit of yoga. IMG_7709 I find that even a few minutes of exercise, movement or breathing can make a difference to your headspace for the rest of the day. It’s important to always start your day right. I was pleasantly surprised when I was having my morning coffee that the cups were even personalized. What a nice touch! IMG-20151229-WA0028 I was now in the mood to start soaking up some of India’s historical gems and I headed to the ‘Humayun Tomb’, built in 1565, in honour of the late Mughal Emperor. I was awed by the magnificent arches and gateways, which led to the emperor’s final resting place. HumayunTomb Tomb2 This architectural work of art was commissioned by the Emperor’s wife, nine years after his death and I assume she must have wanted the people to remember her husband because this elaborate red-sandstone work-of-art has stood the test and ravages of time and has become a Unesco Heritage sight today. Humayun Tomb Bangla Sahib2 I then made a trip to the stunning Gurudwara Bangla Sahib temple which had these majestic golden domes and elegant arches built over a sprawling expanse of pure white marble. It was a very serene place to visit and of great significance to the Sikh community. BanglaSahib3 I walked barefoot in silent contemplation on its pristine tiles encircling a pool believed to have healing properties and started looking back on 2015 and all its challenges. I mentally sent out positivity and prayers for peace while making a fervent wish for more acceptance and racial harmony in this world, which led me to my next stop. Lotus Temple2 I wanted to visit the unusual ‘Lotus Temple’ or ‘Bahai’s House of Worship’, built in the mid 80’s, because of its unique premise. It was a lotus shaped structure, made with Greek marble nestled on immaculately groomed verdant gardens. I was told it had no statues or signs of any Gods anywhere on the grounds, so I was perplexed. “Is it a Hindu or Buddhist temple?” I asked my guide, and he said it was neither. It’s a place that was built to honour the equality of all religions so everyone, from all races and different backgrounds were welcome to spend a moment of solitude or prayer in this silent space. Lotus Temple I thought it was a lovely reminder to everyone despite coming from different walks of life, to remember that we can stand united, with the same heartbeat, made of the same ‘stuff’ as we let go of the need to search for similarities but instead, celebrate our differences and the simple fact we are all human at the end of the day. IMG_7627 To check out some of my health and sleeping tips, please log on to:  Jojo Struys/Westin/Starwood Asia Pacific
October 14, 2016

1 responses on "First Trip to India"

  1. Thank you so much for providing me with the best information. I would love to visit India as soon as possible. I wasn’t having any desire to visit the place before, but now after reading your post, I wish like visiting it at least once. Each place you have mentioned is like awesome. This year , actually I was planning for a trip and now I t think I should choose this place.

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About Jojo Struys

Jojo Struys is an accomplished speaker, author, regional TV host and HRDF accredited corporate trainer. She is very passionate about wellness and is currently the wellbeing brand advocate for the Westin Hotels, Asia Pacific.

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