My recent trip to India was an opportunity for me to count my blessings - Daxa Patel

The word holiday originates from holy day, a time away from the usual hectic pace of life, a time to introspect, rest, and appreciate. As I write this piece, it is the last day of my holiday to India. For me, this trip has given me the space to step back and appreciate the wonders around me.

I went to India to attend my grand nephew’s wedding. Months of detailed planning and preparations culminated in a five-day wedding festival. The groom was a quiet, unassuming, thoughtful young man but to his credit he went with the flow smiling effortlessly in every photograph, and in all the colourful rituals. It was amazing and for me it was nice to see the fusion between the traditional and modernity.

I discovered a few things while there. Amongst them was the fact that I love dancing. But more surprisingly I learnt that my whole family love to dance. I also discovered the power of being in the now and not thinking about anything else other than to immerse oneself in the activity to hand.

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It was truly joyful, not worrying about my responsibilities on the home front or about my dog who, incidentally, was on a holiday himself with two other German Shepherd dogs, he did not have time to miss me. But truly, I was blessed with the fact that my dog, Oscar, was being lovingly cared for by a lovely couple Chris and Heather, so my normal overthinking brain was given a sabbatical from any worries for my pet.

Indian dancers perform during Republic Day celebrations in Gauhati in 2020. PIC: AP Photo/Anupam NathIndian dancers perform during Republic Day celebrations in Gauhati in 2020. PIC: AP Photo/Anupam Nath
Indian dancers perform during Republic Day celebrations in Gauhati in 2020. PIC: AP Photo/Anupam Nath

Away from our usual surroundings and daily chores we get to experience a different type of day which can be invigorating. Time starts to slow down, and we see life unfolding. We have more time for small talk, and we have more time to do nothing. Doing nothing is extremely hard for someone like me as I have always found relaxation a challenge. But I did slow down.

After basking in the wedding festivities, and the late nights, I ended my trip with a four day stay at a naturopathy resort. Now I know a little bit about ayurveda, so this was a new experience. I enjoyed an amazingly comfortable few days in this 144 acres of lush greenery.

The management of the place was austere with a compulsory 30 minutes’ walk in the morning and no tea. Now, I am used to walking daily with my dog. We tend to walk two hours a day so you can imagine, I refused to follow this ‘rule’ because I was on my holiday. As for the rule of no tea well, since then I now drink my morning chai with reverence and respect.

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Funny, how when we cannot have something we take for granted there is this newfound sense of appreciation after it is temporary absence. But in reality, everything in our daily lives is full of miracles only we are too busy to see. If we can wake up in the morning and get ready that is a miracle. If we can walk from one room to another, that too is a miracle. If we can eat with cutlery in our hand that is a miracle, and I could go on.

Apart from feeling grateful for my cup of chai, I found gratitude for my fatherland. Since my father’s death the affinity with my father’s country of origin weakened, but this time perhaps I was in a different state as I found a sense of belonging. I actually feel quite blessed to belong to two cultures, the East and the West. I can choose what I like and it is a privilege to feel a sense of belonging with my Yorkshire roots and my Indian roots. This sounds like a spicy cup of Yorkshire Tea, and yes that is me in a nutshell, I am proud to have two countries to which I can relate.

I feel immense gratitude towards my family there because they made me feel one of them.

I also feel grateful to Chris and Heather who looked after my precious dog and my neighbours who kept an eye on my home while I was away. When I came home in the early hours my lovely neighbours had left a bag with a pint of milk, a loaf of bread, and a bunch of tulips. How amazing is that?

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Little things matter and it is these ‘little’ things that are hugely significant and symbolic. It reflects a sense of respect, kindness, and humanity which is what the world needs more of.

Coming back to my holiday it almost did not happen as I am not a fan of travelling by air. I started this piece about the mysteries of life, and the wonderment that surrounds us. My holy days had a purpose, it was an opportunity to observe and soak in the joy of love on display in both nations.

While in India I was present for the flag hosting ceremony for India’s Republic Day. It was quite something. It was in fact the British departure that gave birth to free India. History tells a story of its own but what I see in abundance is magnanimity.

I mean this country has a Hindu Prime Minister. It does not matter that he was not chosen by his party members, but him being in office says so much about this country. If you are reading this piece, I hope when you go on your holiday you will use it as a holy day to remember the many blessings in your world.

Daxa Manhar Patel is a leadership coach, author and solicitor.

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