India Road Trip – the Journey of the Garlic Girls

“Thank you for this amazing road trip
Cheers for you let’s all stand up and take a sip.

Thank you for showing us 7 different states,
Monkeys, sunsets and temples in 28 days…..”

The opening lines of the farewell song written and sung by the Garlic Girls. We are so happy to tell you why.

It is always with much apprehension we welcome our travellers to the most interesting program, India Road Trip. We have our reasons, justified ☺ As you step into the capital of this incredible country, no amount of reading or research will prepare you for the first sound of the noisy roads, the heat of the city welcoming you at all times of the day, the smell of fried “samosas” or “pakodas” from the streets and the gentle nudges from people in shops, buses or on roads. Sometimes it can be a cow or a goat trying to cross the road along with you.

Behold, all your senses aroused and activated!!

Such is the start of an exciting journey which begins in the north, in New Delhi and ends down southwest, in Goa.

The Garlic Girls arrived on a wet day in August for such a trip. Amidst the group of crowded people who flock the international arrival point at the airport, there was a gentleman whose smile was bigger than the name board he was carrying. He has been waiting since the wee hours of the morning, to meet and pick up the 6 participants.

By dinner time, he had managed to bring the last girl from the airport and made her join the others who had arrived earlier.

The journey takes the group through cities by road and rail, each day being more spectacular than the other. Trying out different cuisines, tasting the street food, learning to bargain with shopkeepers are some of the first lessons learnt in the week.

Awestruck with the marvel of architecture, the Garlic Girls could hardly believe their eyes when they stood in front of the majestic Taj Mahal in Agra. The wonder continued as they visited Amritsar and saw the Golden temple.

From the bus ride to tuk-tuks and now atop camels in Rajasthan, the journey continued on the largest desert of India, Thar.

Legs aching and skin tanned, the Garlic Girls explore City of Lakes, Udaipur. Inspired by the local dancers, they wear the traditional outfit and learn a step or two and groove with them.

And if this dancing was not enough to loosen their limbs from the desert expedition, they travel to the city of Bollywood, Mumbai !! Amidst the studio and sets where superstar movies are made, our Garlic Girls pose with look-alike statues of film stars and learn the basics of shooting a dance scene.

Sunsets at the beach and eating local food seemed to be the most important agenda for the evenings. A long train ride to Goa awaits them and as they pack their rucksacks during the heavy rain in Mumbai, they bid adieu to and board the train to Goa.

When they wake up in the morning, they are greeted by sounds of vendors selling hot tea, “Bisleri” water (in India, bottled water is sweetly called “Bisleri” thanks to the locals, the brand has become a synonym for the product).

The group soon arrives at a beautiful Portuguese styled bungalow which will be their home away for home for the next 7 days.

Amidst the cheering of the residents in the house, who have come to Goa to assist in various programs, the Garlic Girls are given a warm welcome by the in house staff and are shown their respective rooms. They will spend the last part of their Indian journey helping in community engagement programs.

But first, the best remedy to tired muscles and a fatigued body: Yoga and Ayurvedic Massage !! The Indian answer that works wonders. The week flies by with the girls at their chosen projects.

As the day comes closer to the end of the India Road Trip program, one could witness a unified sadness and joy from this special group of Garlic Girls. On the last day, like a bunch of schoolgirls getting ready for a surprise party for their teacher, they gather everyone and invite their Guide cum coordinator, and begin to sing. The lyrics tell their story with him in the last 4 weeks. The words touched everyone’s heart and one could hardly control their emotions as the song ended with “Thank you”

The multilingual gratitude embossed on the cake, the beautiful handmade card was not just a gift, but a sentiment, an emotion which will stay with us forever.

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