My love of Scotland, and Britain in general, is such that whenever I board a plane with my passport in my pocket, it is usually headed in that direction. Delightfully, my general appearance - pale skin, blonde hair, light eyes - grants me passage as a local most of the time, at least until I open my mouth, thus allowing the escape of a faint hint of a southern accent, an accent that I myself am totally unaware of but which, apparently, others can detect at twenty paces. Even then, when my accent reveals me as an outsider, Edinburgh cab drivers still ask me over for tea upon finding out my mother was a MacDonald. I’ve been stopped on a London street by lost tourists inquiring the best route to the British Museum and was once, during the presidency of George Bush Jr., included in an amusing “can you believe these Americans” conversation with an elderly gentleman one rainy afternoon outside Holyrood Castle.
Nothing is sweeter than disappearing into the everyday life of another country. It’s truly the best way to experience travel, at least for me. However, after spending two hours in India on Saturday, that may be about to change. I had such a wonderful trip. Of course it would have been, for I had some charming traveling companions. Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith. Yes, I went to see the new movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and now I want to go again. I also think I want to go to India, even though I would most certainly not fit in as I seem to do in Britain. Locals would pick me out in a nanosecond. The heat might cause me to swoon and I would, no doubt, get woozy riding backwards in a tuk tuk.
I want to go.
I want to see the colours of India. Yellows and oranges unlike any on the colour wheels of my experience.
I want to stroll down a dusty road alongside a grey elephant.
I want to see camels waiting curbside like taxis.
I want to stand knee deep in marigolds the colour of fire.
I want to hear unusual sounds, stare into smiling black eyes, drink strange tea.
I want to wear a blue sari.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a wise little film. In eloquent fashion, it tells us that life, though indeed short, never loses its capacity for adventure but that we can, by living a life of negativity and fear, lose our own. And what a sad state that is. If we turn away from beauty often enough, we soon cease to see it at all. If we plod through our days with our ideas chiseled in stone - eyes shut, ears closed - our lives slowly evaporate down into something hard, something cold. Life is, at least to my eyes, so full of beauty and serendipity my only worry is how to stretch my arms wide enough to contain it all.
So yes, now I want to go to India.
And if Bill Nighy, or you, want to come along.... more’s the better for me.