Chapter 1. A birthday surprise
One day, my dad came to my bedroom while i was doing my homework. He wanted to talk to me about something important. "Edu, I've got a surprise for you," he said, with a smile.
"What is it, Dad?" I asked.
"I'm travelling to India this summer,"Dad said. "I'm visiting my partner, Mr Shenoy. Would you like to go with me?
"Oh, Dad, that's afantastic idea!" I exclaimed.
"I've got work to do there but I'll also have time to travel around the country with you," continued Dad. "India is a fascinating place and I want to show you some of the most beautiful places. We'll have a great time! This will be our present to you for your 17th birthday."
I was so happy! I couldn't wait to tell all my friends! I gave my dad a big hug.
"OK", Dadsaid. "Tomorrow, Mum will go with you to apply for our visas and I'll buy the tickets."
I went onto the Internet to find information about India. An hour later, I ran to tell my mother everything. "Hey, Mum, did you know there are more than a billion people in India and it's almost seven times as big as our country?" I asked. Mum smiled at my enthusiasm.
"India has got many different kinds oflandscape, "I continued.
"From flat lands to the Himalayan mountains in the north. It's surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Here, look at the map!"
"I know, Edu," Mum answered, patiently. "It's an amazing country."
I didn't want to stop. "Each area has got different kinds of people, arts, traditions and cultures," I continued.
"But you know that it's not aneasy country to visit, Edu," said mum. "The noise and the crowds and the chaos can be shocking at the beginning. Even experienced travellers find travelling on the roads and trains difficult. There are a lot of very poor people there. It makes you very sad."
"Yes, I can understand that," I said.
"But India is fascinating. When you visit it for the first time, you want to go back again and again,"said Mum. "There's so much to see and learn. Your dad has been there at least ten times and he always discovers something new."
A week later, Dad came home with two tickets and a tourist guidebook about India. I wanted to read it immediately. That afternoon, the doctor gave us our injections and then he talked to us for a moment. "People often get ill when they go to India because they don't knowhow to take care of themselves," he explained. Then he gave us a list with some important rules to follow. "Follow these guidelines, and you'll be fine," he said.
- Don't buy food or drink from peopole in the street
- Drink only bottled, boiled water or carbonated drinks in cans or bottles. Don't drink ordinary water.
-Avoid milk products except in closed packages.-Bring medicine against diarrhoea.
-Wear long-sleeved shirts, long trausers, sun cream, sunglasses and a hat.
-Bring insect repellent against mosquitoes.
After i read these rules, i was a little nervous, but Mum said, "Don't worry, Edu. Your dad and i always follow these things and we never have any problem there."
It was difficult for me to concentrate on anything for the next six weeks,especially school. All I could think about was india.
Mrs Shenoy spoke perfect English, just like her husband. "The British governed this country for many years and generations of indians grew up speaking English," Dad explained to me later. "But the shenoys also speak a local langauage called Kannada and the national language called Hindi. In fact, you won't belive it, Edu, but there are 14official languages in India and a thousand other minor languages and dialects."
"Wow!" I said. "I'm impressed! I can only speak Spanish and English!"
Then i met Chandra, the Shenoys' son. He was my age and very friendly. He was dressed like me in jeans and a T-shirt, and not in the traditional Indian clothes. I was very happy to meet him and to have someone to talk to when the adults became too...