Many of my friends have traveled to India and tell wonderful stories about their trips.  Recently, I had a little money in the bank and my friends encouraged me to go with them to India. It is not far and it is easier to afford the airfare and lodging compared to some other countries.

Besides a vacation we wanted to look at universities to find out about getting scholarships. We stayed for about one month and traveled to different areas including Rajasthan, New Delhi, and Goa.

We flew from Kabul to the modern airport in New Delhi. We traveled around the city in rickshaws, and we found it has very enjoyable hotels and shopping and restaurants. You find many stores selling women’s saris—the dresses known throughout the world for their beauty. You can find music and movie stores selling world-famous Bollywood films.  The restaurants are nice, too, but use caution: many Indian dishes use hot pepper and the dishes are spicy, but delicious.

My favorite historical sites that we visited were from the days of Shah Jahan. When I visited the Taj Mahal I thought about love, how it is one of the human emotions that can create wonderful monuments like this. Shah Jahan had fallen in love so he made this building as a memorial and tomb for his wife.  I thought she was lucky.

Pools of water surround the Taj Mahal so you can see its reflection on the water and this is beautiful. It is even more beautiful when it is rainy because the crowd noise of a summer’s day is silenced.  And the rain makes everything clean. With the rain, the reflection in the pool becomes like a painting, and the drops of water make small waves on its surface. The effect is like painting with watercolors under rain.

I also visited the Red Fort near Delhi where Shah Jahan lived with his family until his wife Mumtaz died. Old Red Fort is like an army base built with red stone. The walls are very strong. When I went inside I felt powerful, like I was a king. A big pool also surrounds it, filled with crocodiles. There is a jungle with snakes, lions, tigers, wolves, and wild elephants. The tickets to visit these places were also very inexpensive, so even a person of modest means can afford the entrance fees.

Goa is beautiful. Now I think that each time that I go to India I will go to the Goa beach.

I only play in the water because I can’t swim: Afghanistan is not close to water so people don’t pay much attention to swimming. At the Goa beach, the drinks and restaurants were very appealing with delicious seafood. Some of the other foods I enjoyed were pakawra, dal, paratha, shrimp, and shale. Most of the people I met there were kind and knew English. You also can buy clothes there for better prices than in Delhi.

All of my India travels were wonderful, but one will always stick with me.  My friends and I had gone out in a group and I was wearing white clothes when suddenly it began raining.  We all stood under a big tree and stayed dry.  Suddenly, my friend pushed me and I fell down, getting my clothes dirty. I stood up and pushed my other friend into the rain.  Everyone started pushing and laughing. We all got soaked and danced under the rain and laughed.

When I am sad or tired, I think about my memories of this vacation and it encourages me. Then I say, Mona, it doesn’t matter where you are or where you’re from or if you’re far from your friends. You can bring changes and make happiness everywhere for yourself and for other people around you.  I can be like the happy bee that sits on the flower with pollen at her feet.  When the bee flies and lands, everywhere she touches, the flowers grow. That whole trip was amazing for me. I hope you will go to visit and enjoy, too.

By Mona