When my son was nine years old, we visited India for five weeks.
I had taken him traveling since he was born, but in 2010, I felt the time was in for taking Armand to the country I had fallen in love with, back in 1995.
Since I was a teenager, I had dreamt of exploring the world. In 1994, as a 22 years old young lady, I bought a one-way ticket, and off I was On The Road.
My first big backpacker trip lasted for nine whole months. I went to Iran, India, and Nepal.
In retrospect, I would call those months for a practical school “an eye-opener.” I studied by seeing and experiencing. I learned geography, a bit of demography, culture and customs, and some language.
And for the first time in my life, I tasted the real feeling of freedom.
On the road, I was the happiest and most joyful version of myself. I was free.
I started that voyage by going back to the country of my birth, Iran. I had missed Iran severely. I had not been back to Iran since we left the country in 1986.
Moving to Norway at the age of 14 ½ had turned out to be much more demanding than I had ever imagined but returning to Iran also showed me how much the years in Norway (since our arrival in 1987) had changed me.
Revisiting Iran made that shift so tangible. Many of my family members had moved abroad, and everything felt so different from my childhood years. Nothing was the same. After three months of stay in Iran, I knew; “the Iranian chapter of my life” was over, and off I was, to India.
I had traveled to Iran with an Iranian passport. The people born in Iran can not enter the country without an Iranian passport. So when I was leaving the country, I had to find a state that did not require a visa for Iranians. That country turned out to be Malaysia.
I will never forget how scared I was traveling all alone by myself. Arriving late at night in Kuala Lumpur, I had to find a place to stay. I remember Kuala Lumpur as even more modern than Oslo. The city was so calm and clean.
When I finally did find a hotel, I was not able to sleep. I had a horror scenario looping around my head.
“What am I doing here? All alone, by myself without knowing anyone or having a plan, out here in this big world.”
Around 5 am, wholly exhausted, I decided to postpone the decisionmaking.
“After some hours of sleep, if I still feel the same, I will buy a return ticket and travel back to Norway. Yes, going back to Norway without making the long-planned trip will be a defeat but not worse than I can handle it, ” was some of my last thoughts before falling to sleep.
A few hours later, after a short sleep, I had decided, “India was out there waiting for me.”
And the story does not end there.
Later on, the same day, walking around, trying to find a cheap ticket to India, I run into a very gentle older man.
“Do you need any help?” He asked.
“I am looking for a place to buy a cheap ticket to India,” I explained.
It showed up that he was Indian by origin but had lived all his life in Malaysia. And through him, I learned about the enormous Indian community living in Malaysia. That gentle soul helped me finding a ticket, then accompanied me to the airport and wished me a safe trip. Later in life, I learned that angels many times, show up in the human form. I am sure he was one of them.
And why India? I think Bollywood should get the credit for that decision of mine. They have done an excellent job promoting their country through their movies. Bollywood movies were top-rated in Iran, and I was a big fan of them as a girl.
Arriving in India, I fell in love. I loved the chaos, the smells, the intense colors, and the countryś varied nature.
There is a saying, you either love India or dislike it, and there is nothing in between. For me, I was madly in love. And that is why I had to take my son to that mystical, beautiful country.
To be continued!!!