While in India, I had to make a complete U-turn from my Catholic upbringing to follow the Hindu way. Being “westernized” by living in Canada, it was not easy to make the change, but I was determined to adapt during my time in India. Just in case you are wondering about my origins at this point, allow me to put things in perspective. My parents immigrated to Kenya from India, specifically from Goa, south of Mumbai. Goa was a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years, and my ancestors were converted to Christianity; as a result, subsequent generations lost their Hindu roots. The migration path continued for my immediate family, as my younger brother and I immigrated to Canada, while one sister and a brother went to the United States, and my youngest sister moved to England.
The idea of visiting India came about when Ramen Khare, my son’s mother-in-law, a Hindu woman, convinced me to travel to India with her. She said, “Since you don’t speak Hindi, you will be more comfortable with me. I will do all the talking on your behalf. We will not be travelling often in large cities, but in small towns and villages where my relatives are.” She added, “You can take all the pictures you want to your heart’s content. No one will object.”
One of my first challenges in India was to become a vegetarian and eat using my right hand. At first, the food stuck to my hand and although most of it landed in my mouth, some dripped on to my chin. No one at the table made funny remarks, and I eventually mastered eating with my right hand. Actually, I was respect all the way for making an effort to recover my Hindu roots.