This is going to be the beginning of my chronicles of my journey to India.  I’m leaving next month to visit a country that I have wanted, for more than half my life to visit.  So far, I have bought my plane ticket, planned where I will go in India, with of course time to go to places that I may hear about when I’m there and make adjustments to my itinerary. I even told some colleagues at work, due to the fact that they will be handling my clients while I’m away.  I’m trying to subdue my excitement because I want to remember every moment of my planning and the ever-ending discussions with my girlfriend of what I will experience.   Months ago, I became inspired to write again because of this trip.  I promised myself that I would write about the entire emotional and physical experience.  It is actually a selfish reason as opposed to trying to share it with others, even though I know I will be posting this and you all will be able to experience it with me.  I’m writing about all of it so I can read it again when I am much older and I need to remind myself of the absolute and tremendous gift I feel at this very moment knowing that one of my longest dreams I have ever had, will be true in weeks.  So, without further ado, here is my first experience with India, even when I haven’t reached the country.

 

For many years, travelling has been easy for me.  I simply had to make sure my passport was valid and I buy a plane ticket and plan my trip.  Not so when you have to go to India.  Due to political and cultural reasons, anyone visiting India must apply for a VISA.  Now I must say, this process is completely foreign to me (forgive the pun).  Thankfully my girlfriend, Hema, is an Indian.  She knows the process like no one’s business.  She had it planned out months before hand and knew exactly what was required so when we arrived at the office in Brampton Ontario, all we had to do is wait for our number to be called and the gentleman behind the counter easily processed our application. Oh, I know what your thinking, well that was the shortest entry he has ever written.

Not quite.

We woke up at 6:45 am on a Saturday, which as many of you know is one of two days which I can afford to sleep in to at least 8:30am, Hema is laughing right now as she is reading this because for her sleeping in is at least 9:30-10:00.   I awoke easier than usual because I knew I didn’t have to go to work.  Knowing I don’t have to drive one and a half hours just to get to work really made me smile.  I got up at the first alarm sound, usually I allow 3-4 snoozes.  I got ready and woke Hema up when I was ready.  I came downstairs and turned on the News.  Found out Castro died, and felt relieved for Cuba, but realized Castro’s brother is in Power and started thinking,

“Maybe he’ll do the right thing and call elections.”  Yes, that was extremely naive.

So, I waited for Hema and we left at 7:25 am, The office for the VISA’s opened at 8am, Hema mentioned that by 7:30 there would be a line-up already.

We get there and to our surprise the line-up outside the office only had 10-15 people.  Hema was happy about that.  The day started with very light wispy rain, I call it Niagara Falls weather.  Just a very light mist, but it was chilly.  Getting out of the car Hema reminds me to put on my hood and we walk over to the entrance of the office.  Now, the way the people who were there lined up, was truly annoying.  Instead of lining up against the building wall so not to obstruct anyone walking or cars that would be pulling up to the parking lot, no they lined up so that they blocked the walk-way and within minutes they were blocking the parking lot entrance.  I have learned to just observe and say,

“Not my problem”.

It has really helped my state of mind when dealing with anger.  We waited 30 minutes in line, which was uneventful.  Promptly at 8, the doors were opened by a girl dressed in a security uniform, I must say this, I really felt sorry for her.  That uniform was very shoddy.  The badges, and I mean all of them, 3 I counted, were pinned to her shirt with safety pins.  It reminded me of a costumer that high-school students would use if they were making a movie.

We walk into the office and compared to other official offices it’s small.  When you walk in, to your right is a small counter where a woman is asking you why you are there and then proceeds to give you a ticket, mine said A40.  The counter was at 15 when I sat down.  To the left of the ticket counter is 4 rows of chairs, 15-20 to a row.  Hema and I sit in the last row and there is absolutely no room for your legs.  I sit down and think, maybe this is preparing me for my 24hr flight to India.  Now many of you know when you have to be in any waiting room, the people in that waiting room along with you, can truly affect your patience.

Behind Hema and I, are the counters where they assist you with your application. No big deal, people are moving back and forth to get to their designated counter when they are called.  Here is when it gets interesting.

Hema knows full well I am always observing human behaviour, I watch how people react to each other, body language and what they are wearing and also how they identify to each other.  This morning was no exception.  Hema and I were truly fortunate and blessed to have the best family sit in front of us. (that was sarcastic)

The family consists of the father, mother, grandmother (paternal), young daughter (maybe 9 or 10) and a boy, no older than 2.  This boy has a really cute face and is all over his mother. I start to notice him when he is asking for something of his mother but she is refusing. I don’t know exactly what is being said because they are speaking, I believe and Hema can confirm, Punjabi.  Now I am even more intrigued because I have to observe body language.  The boy is reaching for something and begins to whine, the mother continues to decline his request.  I can’t see what he is reaching for and his mother finally forces his arms down and probably tells him to sit quietly.  That’s when he lets out the loudest cry.  This is obviously a defiant action, and the first thing the grandmother does is put her hand over his mouth to muffle the obnoxious sound.  The mother though quickly hands him an empty, what seems to be, large zip lock bag.  He now is so defiant that he slaps the bag, grabs it and throws it on the ground.  I turn to Hema and whisper,

“If that was my kid I would tell him, when you get home I am going to beat your ass.”

Hema nods and gives me a small smile.

 

Here is where the truly annoying part comes in.  As a father, I know that acting with civility is very important in this society and it should be instilled very early in a child’s life.  My father was a big advocate of this and my mother of course daily trained me in etiquette. My father has his favourite story of him child rearing when dealing with me.  This is the story, I will get back to the annoying part.

My father starts by telling everyone that they decided to go shopping one afternoon and the street that they were on was busy and on a hill. Quite steep, is the word I believe he uses.  They of course start the shopping at the top of the street and work their way down.  Then my father would fetch the car and go pick us up so that my mother and I wouldn’t have to trek all the way up again.  Now at this point my father would remind everyone how I would love to wander off.  He would always have to have to eyes on me. I would race off in a-moments notice.  Today would be no exception.  Moments later, he saw me walking down the street with no care and worry. My father decided to keep a safe distance and make sure I stayed safe but wanted to see what I would do.  My father quickly knew that I was going to get myself in trouble.  Physics would be my undoing. Maybe that’s why I never liked science in school?  I got half way down the street, when I realized I was alone.  Oh my god, where are my parents?  Where am I?  Who are all these people?  NO!! I’m lost.  Oh wait, I can just walk up the street, it must be easy, just like going down the street. Right?

Not quite.  I started strong and eventually started to realize my endeavour was going to fail. And when I say eventually, I mean 30 seconds later.  My father was watching every single second and I never knew he was there.  He could see the struggle in my face and knew I was about to break.  Then it came.  I gave up.  I began to cry uncontrollably and my father waited a few seconds before showing himself to me.  He took the opportunity to let the experience affect me.  Then when he couldn’t allow me to cry any longer, I think he was afraid that someone would say something, he showed up as a hero.

Daddy!!  I was saved.

Meanwhile back in the VISA office, what did this father do when his toddler son threw the bag on the floor and oh I forgot to mention, the boy swiped his hand at his mother.  The father laughed.  Laughed!!  Many of you know that one of the things that I will not live with is violence.  Unforgivable and should never be forgotten.  I began to boil, anger was trickling up into my throat and soon would be unleashed from my mouth.  The boy continued his tirade.  He whined and defied his mother at every turn.  The father thought it was amusing.  I had to try to ignore it, I couldn’t say anything.

“Not my problem.” I whispered.

Then this kid made it my problem. With the complete lack of parenting that this child was getting, he took it to the next level, he started moving his chair backwards because he got his hands on the passports and did not want to relinquish them to his mother. The chair started sliding back.  Who was behind that chair you ask?  The guy holding the ticket A40.

Yeah, me!!

That’s when I grabbed his chair and pushed it forward.  The chair was already against my knees, I refused to allow him to get away with interrupting me. The mother jumped in, looked at me and looked away quickly when she saw the scorn on my face. I stared the kid down.  He just dismissed my look.  The mother straightened the chair.  Then it happened again.  This time the mother apologized timidly and I said,

“That’s ok.”  I realize that at least the mother is noticing my inconvenience and I appreciate it.

The son though, he stares me down. I stare back. I give him a serious look and he begins to lower his face and keep staring at me.  He reminded me of Damien from the Omen movies.  I look at Hema and say,

“Check out the look.”  Hema looks at the boy and shakes her head.

“Oh man, if this was my son.” I say to her referring to the beating.

“Oh, I know.” She replies.

Time passes because I refused to let my time be enveloped by this Satan child.  Our number is called and we spend 20 minutes with the guy finalizing our VISA’s.   The VISA issue was very easy.  What I realized was that no matter what culture and what race or religion, there are some truly horrible parents in this world.  I am now an advocate of pre-testing adults to see if they are suitable for parenting. I admit, I may not have passed this test myself.

I can’t imagine what this boy will be like at 18.  Can you picture him being violent to his mother?  While she is violated, the father is in the background laughing.  Then when he goes out into the world to then beat another woman who is in a relationship with this monster.  She may have been raised by a loving father and mother but this monster erases all of that by laying his hands on her.

My father once said something to me when I was younger that I only understand today.

“A child is raised 20 years before it is born.”

Glad the VISA is approved. I will never see that family again, except 20 years later on the evening news.