This is the story of how one foreign national fell in love with the rich history, culture and traditions of our country that she could never go back to her homeland. This is about her journey across India, discovering the diversity and exploring the numerous treasures that India has to offer. From the banks of the Ganges in North India to the majestic temples of South India, she has travelled and seen more of India than most Indians themselves! Along the journey she made many friends, found the love of her life and rediscovered herself. India left such a mark on her heart and soul that she could never return back to her country. Discovering Mumbai brings to you the story of Sharell Cook. Sharell writes and manages About.com India travel page, she is settled in Mumbai with her Indian husband.
Her first encounter with India happened in the year 2000. While returning to Australia, from her first overseas trip, she did a stopover in Bangkok where she realized that eastern countries were much more fascinating than west. Even some of her friends were raving about their experiences in India. Finally she got brave and decided to travel to India. The decision was not easy for her. She was daunted by the thought of visiting India, having heard so many stories about people getting sick, getting robbed and whole lot of other such stories. Like many foreigners her perception about India was also the ‘land of snake charmers’. Sharell spent hours on research trying to make sure that nothing would go wrong on her maiden voyage to India. On her first trip she travelled through the northern parts of India – Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Rajasthan. The depth of the culture, the history and architecture of the country left her astonished.
An obsession for India was born out of this first trip, she couldn’t stay away as there was so much more to explore and experience. Two years later she returned to spend some more time. Her second trip would be through South India. This was followed by another trip three years later but this time her reasons to travel were a lot different. Her life was going through a rough patch; she decided to come down to India to do some community work to take her mind off the things troubling her. Also she wanted to get herself out of her comfort zone, become more independent and assertive and she felt that India was the perfect place for this. While in India, an Australian friend offered her to take care of her guesthouse in Kerala for the tourist season, this made her stay back in India. It was also during this journey that she unexpectedly fell in love!
She has a lot of great memories to share from her trips like the wacky camel fair at Pushkar, spending time on houseboats in Kerala’s enchanting backwaters, driving a rickshaw from Chennai to Mumbai as part of a charity event, a village to village yak safari in high altitude Spiti and having dinner with the Maharaja of Udaipur at his palace! However, her most meaningful experience has been attending the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar, it was a very strong spiritual experience for her; something which she had never experienced before. India has played a major role in redefining Sharell, it has made her more flexible, spontaneous and assertive.
India, is the place where she finally found her true love, they decided to get married and are now settled in the city of Mumbai. They met in Kolkata, she asked him to accompany her to the guesthouse in Kerala which she was managing and after that they did some more travelling. They fell in love and finally they got married, but only after the entire horoscope matching was done and his parent’s approval was obtained! Coming from a small village in Australia she finds life in Mumbai too intense! Initially she saw Mumbai as an Indian city trying to be western. But over time she has fallen in love with the city. She loves the cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai and also the fact that it is the safest city in India for women. She finds peace in the beaches of Mumbai. Sharell also loves the Ganesh festival’s grandeur. What she does not like about the city is the poor and shabby state of its infrastructure. Also she feels that the city’s nightlife is being threatened by fanatical policing. She also dreads the city’s traffic and feels that it takes too long to get anywhere!
Sharell writes a blog titled – ‘Diary of a white Indian housewife’. When she was deciding on moving to India, she scoured the net looking for blogs by people who were in a similar situation as hers. She didn’t find many such blogs and so she thought that she should start her own blog to share her experiences with others. Lot of people ask Sharell about moving to India, about her experiences. She believes that anyone who has a genuine interest in India will surely enjoy their time here as India has so many things to teach you. “India can be challenging, but if you have a greater sense of purpose here, then challenges matter less”, says Sharell. She also advises people not to replicate their western standard of living in India. “Anyone moving to India must be ready to make a lot of adjustments”, she believes. For Sharell the journey has been an enriching experience. From travelling India to writing about India, finding the love of her life and getting married, India has given lots of good memories to cherish. And she too has very kind words for the country that has given her so much. “To sum it all in one line – India is a remarkable teacher!”You can check out her About.com India travel page at - http://goindia.about.com/
and her blog 'Diary of a White Indian Housewife' at - http://www.whiteindianhousewife.com/