This story was submitted by Ruchi Gupta to the Stories of Travel collection as part of the May SEEQ sessions.
This spring we took an impromptu family vacation in Europe. My husband was to travel to India for work around that time, so couple of weeks before his travel this idea came to us that he could do break Journey in Europe and we could together explore a place. Genesis of the idea was our recent citizenship, with which we acquired US Passport power – travel WITHOUT VISA
First challenge was to agree on a place to visit. My son wanted to go to Greece, as he is into Greek mythology these days. My husband wanted to go check some vineyards in France and I was hell bound in adding London with every itinerary. I had personal agenda of meet a friend in London and something more. Eventually we settled on a London – France trip. Couple of days in London and then a week in France. We skipped Paris as that itself can take a week. We decided on Burgundy/ Beaune for my wine loving husband and south of France for Roman ruins for my son, trying to map his desire for Greek architecture with Roman, that too in France( no wonder he felt shortchanged)
I had gone to London in 2001, for work and that was my first trip outside India. It was still a very different world for a girl who was brought on a diet of British books and literature. It is difficult to match a place in your head to the reality you experience, specially when you are also (may be unconsciously) carrying the burden of being in the city of your oppressors, who colonized your country (India) for 200 years. When I saw people enjoying lunch sitting in a park I could not help thinking of how much hard work I had put in since my childhood to gain a seat in the same park. It was only I who knew the journey was unparalleled. 5 Months in London were overwhelming, I found It as a racist, cold, snobbish place. Later on in life after I had lived in US for some time, I did question about my own biases and prejudices that may have led to that experience.
So I wanted to revisit London to see how I felt this time…I went there with much lighter conscientious and much less baggage, to my relief I saw the city in totally different light. I loved the architecture, diversity, museums, food, weather, so much so that I would be going there again. May be city has changed and grown a little but it is me who has grown multifold, was my feeling.