Jan 28, 2013

A journey begins

Well folks, it’s happening. As I approach the six-year mark at Google, I’m taking a seven-week leave of absence to travel -- and yes, to write.

This all got started when Google sent me abroad -- to Gurgaon, just outside Delhi -- for three months in 2009. I'd just gotten engaged, and my fiance's India-based family took me in, immediately, as one of their own. I went to Chandigarh, Dehradun, Faridabad, Calcutta -- all in the name of visiting my soon-to-be in-laws. But I had only weekends, and so my visits were always short. (Seriously, 22 hours in Calcutta?)

So I'm off to revisit many of those same towns, and a few more -- including Bangalore, where my brother and sister-in-law now live, and Madurai, where I've wanted to travel since watching Michael Wood on PBS's The Story of India.

While I'm there, I'll blog -- sharing stories I learn and histories about the way things used to be, the ways things are now and the people who lived on both stages. I won't give you an all-encompassing overview of the country, with its highs and lows, its beautiful colors and vistas right alongside its ugly challenges. What I do want to deliver, however, is a series of lessons in my own "adopted" family history -- from recipes for lemon pickle to stories about my in-laws as children.

The word "desi" [d̪eːsi] describes the people, cultures and products of South Asia, according to Wikipedia -- and India most specifically, in my book. In the years that I've been hanging out with my crew of Bombay-rooted friends here in San Francisco, they've taken to calling me a "half-desi" for the shine I've taken to all things Indian -- sarees, art, jewelry and, most notably, food. (A former manager thinks I must have been Indian in a past life.) For 45 days in India, I'm getting a chance to indulge that part of my life and to soak up even more of the culture I'm now hitched to. I can't wait to begin!