A Passage to India

When 14 Flying Longhorns toured India and Nepal, they discovered a feast for the senses.

India is the world’s largest democracy and is among the globe’s fastest-growing economies. Four of the world’s major religions were born there, and 1.2 billion Indians speak 850 languages. Most citizens live on less than $2 per day, yet the country has also produced more than 60 billionaires.

How do you wrap your mind around a place so vast, complex, and rife with contradictions? Often the best way—as 14 travelers discovered during 15 October days in India and its equally fascinating neighbor, Nepal—is by focusing on the details.

“The itinerary was great, with wonderful tours, meals, lectures, and so on,” says traveler Gayle Braecklein, BA ’81, MBA ’87, Life Member, “but more than anything, I was interested in what was going on outside our windows.”

The details that Braecklein and her fellow travelers will remember the most are the unexpected ones—like watching baby monkeys splash in the fountains at Jaipur’s ancient Galtaji temples while the adult monkeys sat back and looked bored, “just like human parents at a playground,” Braecklein laughs. And riding in a rickshaw down a busy Delhi street was “a marvel,” she says, from the rich scents of ginger, cardamom, and curry powder to the heart-wrenching calls of homeless street children.

Then there was the safari in Ranthambore National Park, where everyone was hoping to see a tiger. Tigers proved elusive—though the travelers did spot a fresh paw print—but the other wildlife was equally stunning, from rare birds in Technicolor blue, red, and yellow hues to majestic antelope.

Strolling the Taj Mahal grounds at sunrise was a “bucket list” achievement for many of the group’s seasoned travelers. “It’s one of those sights you read about and see photos of for years and years,” says Herman Burton, BS ’62, MS ’64, “but no photo or description can ever do it justice.”

The group’s small size made for a tight-knit adventure, with at least two travelers forming a friendship that has continued back in Texas. “The thing you can’t get with any other tour company is the camaraderie,” Burton says. “When you’re with other Longhorns, you have an instant bond.”

Photo by Herman Burton.


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