I blame my late Father! Seriously, I blame Dad. He wouldn’t know why but he was actually a major inspiration in my travel passion.
Not that he was a great one for foreign climes, a few trips to Spain, a sojourn to Morocco aside, he was pretty much a home bird. But it started with Dad. And a book.
When I was young Readers Digest did a series of books on world wonders. Our shelves groaned under the weight of tomes on the Colosseum, Ephesus, Pompei and more. Book 2 in the series was The Taj Mahal and, for us, that’s where the series started as Book 1, The Pyramids, never actually arrived. And it made me mad. I wanted that book. I craved that book. A series didn’t start at 2, it started with 1. Aspergers nightmare. And I huffed and puffed, I contacted the publisher, I begged and cajoled in scrawled writing, all to no avail.
So, as my Mother said ” Go and see them for yourself”. So she gets her share of blame as well!
So, logically, my first trip should have been to Egypt.
Which is why I ended up in India!
My sense of direction isn’t that bad by the way but Mum was born in Calcutta so I thought the country of her birth was the place to start.
My first trip was not a success. As someone highly organised, at least in my mind, the chaos was incredible. My senses were assailed by every sight, every sound and some particularly pungent smells. My head reeled, my heart skipped several beats and I was run over by a sacred cow!. A python was wrapped round my neck and I was assured that it “isn’t poisonous mister!”. The python gave me a look which suggested it wished it was and that it could stick it’s fangs into it’s annoying young keeper!
We had attempted pick pocketing at Delhi’s Red Fort, a meal with a close friend of Prince Charles in his private dining room where a multitude of waiters lurked in the shadows and would scare the crap out of me by suddenly appearing and refilling my glass when I least expected it, the sheer wonder of the Taj Mahal which touched me in so many ways with its elegance, it’s form and the gloriously symmetrical appeal to my Autistic eye; and we had Delhi Belly!
On my last day in India I collapsed at the hotel. I had a fever and the bottom didn’t fall out of my world as much as the world fell out of my bottom!. I wished I was dead. I was so hot and then cold, I burnt up then I froze and I vividly recall crawling on my hands and knees along the corridor to a couple I was travelling with begging for help. I hate being ill. When your life is based on control, pattern, routine, to have that all interrupted by illness is an Autism disaster!
My friends packed all my bags for me whilst I lay unmoving in their ice cold room. They mopped my fevered brow and got me to the airport, on the plane and safely home again. I can never thank them enough but am delighted to say that, 26 years later, Patrick (me) is still in touch with Patrick and Patricia!.
Once home I was off work for two months. I lost three stone in weight and, at that time I didn’t have much weight in the first place. I found I didn’t just have Delhi Belly but, being one of those “all in” people, I had contracted dysentery!. I spent more time on the toilet than I did sleeping, eating or watching Tv. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
And that was India, at least the first time.
My father looked at my mother and then at me ” Well” he said, “That’s put you off travelling”. He looked…..smug ?.
So, I looked at them both, and I smiled and I said “Didn’t I tell you ?. I’ve booked for Egypt next year”.
I really had, quite literally, caught the bug!