India

Few days ago, I posted a couple of photos on Instagram with my suitcase and myself boarded on a plane. One friend asked where I was going. I replied , To 18.9750 N, 72.8258 E. He is a geek so he figured out the coordinates. Then one of my cousins asked the same question and I replied, ‘To one of the countries in the film Eat. Pray. Love.’
I went to India. I visited two places: Mumbai and Pune, to where I had meetings and personally met with people I only interacted on emails and conference calls for the last two years. Between all these colleagues, there are two whom I closely work with. BR is based in Mumbai and MG is based in Pune. There was a competition. They gave me a challenge. That at the end of my 3-day trip, I will have to choose which of the two cities is better.
Knowing that I will only get to see glimpses of the cities as most of my time will be spent inside meeting rooms, I told them that I will give my verdict on the day I leave and I may have to give a higher preference to whoever can bring me to a Starbucks shop where I could buy a mug with Mumbai or India inscription.
In Mumbai, I went to see the Gate of India, saw one of the most expensive houses in the world, had dinner in an authentic Indian restaurant called Jewel of India, saw simultaneous wedding ceremonies, learned significant information about mosques, sareehs, bridges, bay areas, etc. Despite finding a Starbucks shop near the famous Taj hotel, there was no mug.
In Pune, I was welcomed by a cooler weather. I got to taste authentic samosa, had Indian ice cream, delicious barbeque and Thums Up. I played Carram and totally enjoyed it. MG fell short of his promise that I will not leave Pune without a Starbucks mug. All attempts remained futile.
This morning, as I was being escorted by one of the hotel staff to the car that will bring me to the airport, I made one final attempt to ask, ‘Is there a Starbucks at the airport?’ My eyes glittered when he said there is one. Only that it is a bit far from the Departure area. He gave me directions.
I didn’t have much time to spare. My flight was in 1.5hrs. Soon as I arrived at the airport, I literally ran and looked for Starbucks. My heart sank as I entered the shop and didn’t see any mugs. I was ready to turn back and leave when I mustered some courage to ask the lady at the till, ‘Do you have a mug that has Mumbai written on it?’ She said, ‘No, Ma’am. But we have one with India on it!’ Wow. Imagine the smile on my face. My heart was giggling.
Before boarding, I sent a message to BR and MG saying, Mission Accomplished (together with the photo of the mug). MG replied, ‘Now I believe… If u wish for something from your heart… U get it…😃😃’
I write this as the plane takes off from the runway of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. I happily leave with a Starbucks mug that has ‘India’ inscription. But more importantly, of all the countries I was fortunate enough to visit, India will probably be the one with the most special inscription in my heart. Though I have only seen glimpses of India’s people and culture, it opened enough window for me to appreciate and be grateful about life.
I guess, the book has to be re-written. You don’t need to visit three countries to Eat. Pray. Love. In India, you Eat, you Pray and you find Love in the most ordinary of ways.

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