So many times when I say that we lead tours to India, I get the response from people that they don’t have any desire to go to India. They tell me that it’s dirty, smelly, and the people live in poverty. They have never been there, but they “know.” I, who have been there by now about 15 times, know a bit more.

The landscapes in India are breathtaking- from the foothills of the Himalayas in the north to the rich farmland of Punjab, to the rugged desert climate of Rajasthan, to the exquisite backwaters of Kerala. There are palaces and fortresses of unbelievable beauty. But all of this is just the background to India. Because India is its people- their love of life, their kindness, their smiles, their caring, their gentleness. The women in their modest clothing are almost regal- whether they are dressed in gold and diamonds for an extravagant wedding or whether they are working in the fields or carrying filled baskets on their heads.

But mostly it’s their kindness, their devotion, their caring. They live happily among roaming cows and bulls and buffalo, monkeys, dogs, peacocks. And just as we see when we visit the Galapagos, the animals are for the most part calm and quiet because they are not threatened.

The people we work with in India have become like our family. They are warm and friendly and accepting of us. They are respectful of our religious needs, helping us without having to be asked.

So as I sit here for – how many weeks has it been?- in my living room and think about what I miss most, my first answer is, of course, my children, grandchildren, and extended family- and my second answer is my family in India.

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