The return to India 20 years on

EXCUSE the awful, frizzy hair and gigantic glasses but this is just proof of how long it has been since I last went to India.

My first and last visit was in 1995. A time when I had no clue what contact lenses were or that hair serum even existed.

Aged 11, I was only interested in reading my books, listening to my Take That and Eternal tapes and eating Weetabix.

For a start three weeks felt like an eternity.

I spoke hardly any Punjabi, I hated wearing traditional suits and I wasn’t interested in meeting new family members. I certainly wasn’t too bothered about finding out about my roots and the country where my parents were born.

me aged 13 with younger sister

I didn’t understand why the electricity had to go out for an hour each night and leave us sitting in darkness or why there was only one shower in my family’s village in the Punjab.

I didn’t see the beauty in experiencing an eight-hour bus journey to see family in Uttar Pradesh.

And I certainly didn’t appreciate why books, clothes and walkman were so fascinating to some of my younger cousins.

It was all a bit alien to me.

But it wasn’t all bad. There were parts of the trip I enjoyed, such as the visit to the Golden Temple in Amrtisar, meeting two of my great-grandfathers and the delicious, fresh saag we were fed everywhere we went.

Me and younger sisters in India

I still left there claiming I would never return and yet twenty years later I am in fact going back.

Now as an adult, with a completely different outlook on travelling and a greater appreciation of my heritage, I have a feeling I will get a lot more out of this trip.

While still slightly apprehensive about what I will make of it this time, it is going to be a totally different experience and a part of me is actually quite excited.

I’ve heard a lot about how much the country has changed in the last two decades. Apparently all the big cities have McDonalds and Pizza Huts now, and even my family in the village have wifi!

I may just swap my walkman with an iPod this time though and I have my frizz control at the ready!

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