Mother-Daughter Bonding at the Taj: Travelling India

Jodi Ettenberg March 3, 2014 17

The seeds of my India trip began almost a year ago, when I asked my mother what sight she would want to see in her lifetime but was nervous about visiting alone. “The Taj!” she exclaimed almost immediately. “I’d love to see the Taj but I don’t think I’ll make it to India.” My mum loves to travel but never got a chance to do so the way I did – without set end points or fixed plans. So for her birthday, I thought I’d take her with me somewhere exciting. There was just the question of where.

She made it easy with her Taj comment, but convincing her to join was another matter. At first I suggested that she and I go together, but news from the region was less than positive for female travelers, and she protested. We struck a compromise when I suggested we take a G Adventures trip together – me in the role of Wanderer in Residence and her joining as official “Mother-in-Residence.”

The Taj Mahal! It was pouring rain that day, meaning that while we got soaked, there were almost no other tourists there. Those who arrived did so a bit later. We lucked out for pictures, less so for warmth.

The Taj Mahal! It was pouring rain that day, meaning that while we got soaked, there were almost no other tourists there. Those who arrived did so a bit later. We lucked out for pictures, less so for warmth.

We decided on a Comfort level trip, since it was both her 65th birthday and her first trip to the subcontinent. She’s a historian, so the Land of the Maharajas accommodations – old havelis (mansions) with stories of their own – were compelling. And I was reminded that Comfort level trips can include older demographics – perfect for my mum. True to form, our trip ended up being quite small, with another woman my age and the rest of the group my mum’s age.

I’ve written at length about the good, the great and the ugly from my time in Rajasthan. As my blog post is almost 4500 words, I thought I would stick to pictures for my write up here. Overall, it was exactly what we would have wanted or needed: the structure to give my mum peace of mind in getting from A to B and removing the touts and hassles that often stress you out in the region; a chance to ask questions about history and culture; an introduction to food but also the freedom and time to go out and explore on your own.

While some of the group opted to shop, I’d drag my mum for street food meals in markets instead, picking busy stalls with freshly made goods. We had chai tea on the side of the road, dosa (lentil flour pancake) in a parking lot, and the most amazing lassi (yoghurt drink) that I still dream of months later.

When people write me to ask if they ought to travel somewhere because it scares them, I often recommend taking a tour first then staying on after it ends. That way you are comfortable with the destination but have the added benefit of more confident exploration after it is over. While this was my first time in India, I’m grateful for the time I had with a guide and a group, and look forward to a return alone – this time to the South – in coming years.

Jama Masjid (Delhi’s largest and most well-known mosque), in the cloudy afternoon light.

Jama Masjid (Delhi’s largest and most well-known mosque), in the cloudy afternoon light.

Orange vendor in Old Delhi

Orange vendor in Old Delhi.

Hand-dying fabric in Chandelao, Rajasthan.

Hand-dying fabric in Chandelao, Rajasthan.

Natural dyes for fabric in Chandelao.

Natural dyes for fabric in Chandelao.

Palace of Winds, Jaipur

Palace of Winds, Jaipur

Old city gates in the late afternoon light, Jaipur.

Old city gates in the late afternoon light, Jaipur.

Clambering up to the roof of the Amber Fort, Jaipur

Clambering up to the roof of the Amber Fort, Jaipur.

The incredibly intricate Red Fort in Agra.

The incredibly intricate Red Fort in Agra.

Another of the Agra Red Fort from inside its walls. So beautiful.

Another of the Agra Red Fort from inside its walls. So beautiful.

Carved marble at the Ranakpur Jain temple outside of Udaipur.

Carved marble at the Ranakpur Jain temple outside of Udaipur.

View of the main square in Udaipur.

View of the main square in Udaipur.

Making new friends in downtown Udaipur.

Making new friends in downtown Udaipur.

Lakeside in Udaipur, a beautiful view.

Lakeside in Udaipur, a beautiful view.

Jodphur: India’s blue city.

Jodphur: India’s blue city.

Camel country. Mandawa, Rajasthan.

Camel country. Mandawa, Rajasthan.

A beautiful cow in downtown Bikaner.

A beautiful cow in downtown Bikaner.

17 Comments »

  1. Sian Williams March 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Interesting reading your views on travelling to India. Luckily I was able to travel off the beaten track to South East India last year with an Indian friend. It was truly an amazing experience, the food, culture, people absolutely incredible. You must go you won’t regret it.

  2. Steven March 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for showing this beautiful architectural structures. I really love the color they use, in everything they do there.

  3. Lisa March 3, 2014 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Hi there!
    What a nice trip!
    Allow me to introduce myself – I’m a friend of your mom and Howard!
    I’ve known them for several years and they’re such nice people!
    Anyways, I follow your Facebook posts and I’ve read your blog, it’s really great!
    I am gluten intolerant so you insights are great!
    I’ll be traveling to China in sept and I will have a few questions for you. I’m already getting nervous about the pollution levels in Beijing…
    Can I email you directly??

    Regards, safe travels,
    Lisa Goldstein Savelson

    • Jodi March 4, 2014 at 4:23 am - Reply

      Hi Lisa, yes you can email directly, no problem. It’s Jodi -at- legalnomads.com. Thanks for reading! (And yes they are both lovely people — but of course I’m biased ;)

  4. Clarence March 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post Jodi! Very informative. Great photos too!
    Safe travels.

  5. sharmila March 4, 2014 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Wonderful captures of my country here ..
    Have you explored South India? I completely agree that one should combine conducted tours and individual travel.

  6. Stefania @The Italian Backpacker March 4, 2014 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Such a fascinating country and so many things to explore. No wonder it’s almost a continent by itself!

  7. wendyam March 5, 2014 at 11:03 am - Reply

    I have been in India and i can never forget this incredible country. I remember the time that i spent at lotus tempple and Isckon temple every sunday. i used also to go to nehru place. But, the great remembrance i have, it’s my trip for Jaipur ( amber fort) and Agra ( Taj mahal).
    Happy to read your experience in India
    Best regards, miss Jodi

    I am from Burkina Faso ( West Africa)

  8. Nomadic Boys March 7, 2014 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Love your Taj Mahal photo (it’s not like the usual lot you see on Google image search).

    Question- as a traveller not based in your country of “residence” (Canada), was it hard getting a visa?

    We are leaving London for our travels in June but won’t get to India till mid October so will most likely need to get it from an embassy whilst abroad.

    • Jodi April 1, 2014 at 3:44 am - Reply

      Hi Stefan, sorry for the delay — I didn’t see this comment. I did go back to Canada to get this visa, but I was there anyhow. Others have not had an issue getting their visas for India abroad, those each Embassy/Consulate does have different rules.

  9. Sarah April 8, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Stunning photos! D you take them all yourself? Just curious.. if so, what kind of camera do you have?

    Anyway, one of the goals I had for 2016 is to do a mother/daughter trip to India, more for a yoga trip, but I would love to visit.

    • Jodi April 25, 2014 at 12:19 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah, yes these are all my photos. I use an EP-3 Olympus camera, and having forgotten my kit lens at home, these were all taken with a f/1.7 aspherical lens. :)

  10. Stephanie Ussery August 1, 2014 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed this as I am considering a trip to India fall 2015 and will be almost 67 then! I have no traveling partner for a trip this exotic so will be traveling solo which is why G Adventures is appealing. Thanks for your comments about staying over with greater confidence after the tour. I had been thinking of going early, so good advice. I want to go north afterwards as well for a few days flying solo. Wish me luck!

  11. Tara Lynn Dillon August 2, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    What do you mean by wanderer in residence? I would love to find a way to work more interesting travel in my life.

    • Daniel Sendecki August 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Tara — Dan from G Adventures here! The people chosen as our Wanderers in Residence truly represent the spirit of travel and are inspirations for us all—putting aside everything to get out and see the world, selling belongings, quitting jobs, and saving. Then saving some more. All told, they’ve been on the road for a combined 15+ years. Check out all of our Wanderers here.

  12. Kusum August 3, 2014 at 5:47 am - Reply

    What a wonderful trip and pics in India. I am planning to be in New Delhi for a month next year on a home exchange. In other words, accommodation free. I am over 60 category. Anybody out there who would like to join me, to enjoy the time like Jodi did.

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