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On India's Independence Day in 1962, an Ohio family of six landed dockside at the Bombay Harbor, stranded by holiday miscommunications. It was a fitting introduction to an upside down lifestyle ahead. A two day train journey to their temporary home in the Punjab confirmed the fascination and unpredictability of travel in India.
A Fulbright grant bought them to Chandigarh, the ten-year-old Punjab capitol. Making a home and learning to adjust to India's complex ways were challenges. Culture shock hit often, and local schools stunned the children. Fortunately, neighbors were welcoming.
Journeys by bus and train took them almost the length and breadth of India. Visits to the Taj Mahal, the Ganges at Benares, the Sikh Golden Temple, four major cities, a hill station, an ancient cave temple carved from rock, and a mud-hut village just skimmed the surface of all that is India. But they revealed awesome beauty and appalling poverty.
Traveling abroad with an open mind and a spirit of adventure can be transformational for any of us. For the author, a single serendipitous photograph on a Punjab college wall recast the entire trajectory of her path toward a fulfilling lifetime.