It had been my dream to go to India one day ever since I was a little girl and saw the movie “A Little Princess”- and lucky me, my dream came true! I was SO lucky to be invited on a trip to India with some of Zane’s family and friends. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to go!

The purpose of the trip was actually go and see the inauguration of the new school building for Global Pathways School, which is a school in India that Zane’s family has started. I flew direct from Hong Kong to Delhi, and the next morning met up with everyone and flew down to Coimbatore in the south, which is where the school is. On our first night there we had dinner with all the teachers. I sat at a table with a bunch of the female teachers and it was such a blast! It was a really fun night getting to meet all these incredible people and learn all about their life in India and at the school, and I couldn’t wait to actually see the school the next day! Also Laurence had a dance-off with one of the male teachers from the school and it was one of the funnier things I’ve ever witnessed.

When we arrived at the school the next day we were greeted with live music and flowers! They went all out for the inauguration, it was a really big deal. We got a tour of the school and also had a chance to talk with some of the students in the classrooms which I absolutely loved. The students come from low-income families in the surrounding area, and it was so great getting to talk to so many cute, sweet kids and hear about what they’re doing in school and how much they are loving it. Talking to them really made me understand how big of an impact the school has for them, and made me wonder what they would be doing during their days without it. Later that afternoon we had the opportunity to visit the settlement nearby where the majority of the students live. Everyone we met in the settlement was SO welcoming and inviting! Many of them came to greet us when we arrived and walked along with us through their village, proudly showing off their homes and younger children who weren’t in school yet. It was touching to have been given such a warm welcome, especially since they didn’t even know we were coming!

Getting to see the school and its incredible facilities, meeting the teachers and students, and learning about all the many different ways the school is impacting and helping these students and their families really made me fall in love with both the school itself and the people of India. It made me think about how I can contribute to the school in my own way at this stage in my life. I thought about the skills I do have and realised I would love to teach a coding workshop to some students at the school one day. It was an intro to html & css workshop that got me interested in coding once upon a time, and led to a career in web development. India actually has a pretty big tech scene and a need for developers, and it would be so cool if I could maybe help inspire some kids (especially girls) to get into coding as a career path. It’s definitely something I want to do, and I’m really looking forward to the day that I can go back to GPS and run a coding workshop!

After Coimbatore we flew back to Delhi and then made our journey to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I was BEYOND EXCITED for this part! The Taj Mahal had been at the top of my life bucket list since like, the day I was born. And it was finally happening! And it was so magical. We arrived in Agra to the most beautiful hotel at night time. We checked in and went up to our room, and opened up the balcony doors and there it was off in the distance – the Taj Mahal! You could see its silhouette in the night, and I just stood there staring at it while the call to prayer rang out over the city. I literally got goosebumps in that moment. After staring at the Taj Mahal for a few more minutes we got ready for dinner and joined everyone else downstairs. We had an amazing candlelight dinner in the gardens by the pool. I felt like an Indian princess!

The next morning we woke up early to go and see the Taj Mahal, and it was magnificent. The detail is incredible! Tiny carvings in the marble decorate the exterior and interior. The interior chamber is decorated with more marble carvings all inlaid with precious and semiprecious gem stones. You never hear about the gemstones that decorate the walls of the inside, but it was really impressive! I had hyped the Taj Mahal up in my head for YEARS before I even knew I was going to India, and it somehow still exceeded my expectations. It really is a wonder!

On our way out of Agra and onto Jaipur we stopped in a marble shop and watched the artists carve patterns and designs into the marble and lay gemstones in the designs. They do it all by hand and there are no prints or sketches to follow – they hold the designs in their mind, and then carve in free-hand into the marble, its incredible! I got a lucky marble elephant with carvings and gemstones that I love. When I asked Zane what he wanted me to bring him back from India he told me an elephant – so here it was! Haha.

I loved ending our trip in Jaipur. I had no idea about it before, but what a cool city! It’s a really old, really beautiful city. Many of the buildings were built in the 18th century and are still standing and in use. Jaipur is actually known as the Pink City of India and it’s because that is the colour of all the old buildings! In the 19th century Queen Victoria went to visit Jaipur, and because pink is the colour of hospitality, the Maharaja of Jaipur at the time had all the buildings painted pink! It does feel like you’ve gone back in time.

We explored the market in Jaipur and I loved navigating the long and winding alleys and seeing all the colourful sari shops and smelling all the spices. We also visited the City Palace and toured all the different rooms – one room was painted all blue, another was covered in gems! I had my fortune read one night by a fortune teller which is a big deal for me because those people scare me – I hate the idea of something being set in stone and not having any control. My fears were quickly put to rest when I realised the fortune he was reading me was exactly, word for word, the one he read for Lyane the night before haha. We went to an elephant sanctuary one evening and got to paint the elephants and then ride them to an outdoor dinner under the stars in the reserve. It was very magical. And the elephants were so cute! So curious and they kept sticking their trunks out at you to smell you and be pet, I couldn’t stop laughing. They were so funny and their trunks sometimes tickled.

I haven’t talked about the food at all in India and feel like I should. It was so good! I love Indian food though and I know it’s not for everyone, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I had Indian for every single meal – even breakfast! I would get dosas haha. One night in Coimbatore we went to someones house for dinner, and as appetisers they had caterers make high-end versions of Indian street food! I totally forget what everything was called but it was delicious. I realized I love paneer, and anything creamy haha. I tend to eat more vegetarian so I loved how there were always endless vegetarian options! But of course I still ate meat – on our last night we went to a restaurant that is well known for their lamb, and it was seriously the best lamb I’ve ever had. It was so, so delicious. I still think about that lamb.

After a few days in Jaipur it was time to go back home. I was way more sad in the airport than I thought I would be. It felt like I was leaving my family all over again! It was so nice to be around everyone again, and then to leave them all at the airport while they all went back to Toronto together was hard. But I really missed Zane on that trip and it felt great to get back home to him!

What a trip! It really was the trip of a lifetime. Sharing the experience with all those amazing people was really special and something I’m never going to forget.

Below are a few photos from India. I actually really regret not taking more photos, most of these are from other peoples phones. I brought our good camera but for some reason I just didn’t take many pictures! So preoccupied with experiencing it all I guess haha. Also I didn’t have Zane with me who is usually the one taking all the great photos. If you have any questions about a certain picture or what’s going on, just leave them in the comments below!

How adorable are these sweet faces? The Kindergarteners at GPS <3

Riding in the tuk-tuk, on our way to visit the settlement where the majority of the children at GPS live.

Such a warm welcome!

These sweethearts were so excited to show me what they were learning in school!

India is the most colourful country!

I love this photo of the Taj Mahal off in the distance! This was the view from our hotel balcony when we arrived, with the call to prayer ringing out in the distance. Truly magical!

Tile work from the famous stone carvers in Agra. They carve these patterns into marble and then fill them with gem stones, all by hand and not using any machinery. Incredible!