Hot Times and Cool Memories
It’s definitely summer here in Texas. My AC is pumping away and I’m already dreading the next electric bill. I spend a lot of time at the computer but I have to get out sometime. Lately it’s been to the movies. The last one I saw was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” My friend and I went to lunch then hit an early afternoon showing. The theater was half full which was a surprise for a week day. But the age range was well above forty and averaged Medicare card holding status. I won’t tell you where I fit in. Use your imagination. Anyway, it’s a great story, British, and I loved the way the characters were set up. In my own books, I’m all about the characters. If I can’t feel what they are feeling, figure out how they will act, the story can’t move forward for me.
The people in this movie were all forced by one circumstance or another to move to India for their retirement. Now I got the chance to live in India one summer when I was eighteen, right after my freshman year in college. This was a long time ago. My dad taught teachers there about electronics and computers. I still say he is responsible for all the outsourcing there today. Anyway, my brother and I got to go with my parents and it was the trip of a lifetime. India is a fascinating place. Back then we experienced culture shock, just like the people in this movie. I’d never seen such poverty. People literally slept in the streets. We’d go to a movie there and ride a taxi home at night. It would have to steer around the bodies.Desperate children hounded us whenever we went shopping in the markets, asking for pennies. I was uncomfortable with it, a lot like one of the women in the movie I just saw. It made me realize I didn’t get as much out of my Indian experience as I could have back then.
My brother was like another character in the Marigold Hotel. He was fourteen and fearless. He rented a bike and rode all over the city of Bangalore. He even got arrested once for running a stop sign. He never told my parents he’d been taken to the police station and paid a fine. Not until years later. My brother grew up to be a hippie and one of my best friends. He’s the one who should be writing novels.
Anyway, I am the writer here so I saw the movie and came home thinking. It’s what I do with almost every experience in my life. How did the movie makers suck me into the story? Why did the events move me to tears at one point? I loved the colors and excitement of India and it made me want to go back and try it again. But the sad fact is that it would cost a fortune now just for air fare. I could do a lot of trips to closer places for what one trip to India would cost. And once I got there? Would I freeze with fear again? Like I did when I was a teenager? I don’t know. One thing I did get out of my Indian adventure while I was holed up in our British run hotel was that I discovered Harlequin Romances and Georgette Heyer novels. It changed my life. So all was not lost. But then we are shaped by every experience. We just don’t always realize it at the time.
Have you ever taken a trip that made you change your way of thinking? I’d love to hear about it. Or do you have a dream trip on your mind? I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand. Those are on my wish list. Share here. I’m waiting to hear from you.