“I Wanted to Stay in India; Life Had Other Plans”: A Reluctant Traveller’s Odyssey

She was the typical Mumbai girl who wanted to stay in India all her life. But her travel-crazy husband ensured otherwise. Hundreds of journeys later, Kiran Kapoor now lives in a state of permanent gratitude.

By Kiran Kapoor, 68, Delhi

As the youngest of four siblings, and the only girl, I had a pampered childhood, even though my parents were Partition refugees from Lahore who had to start a new life from scratch in Mumbai.

I was called Guddi at birth (though as my age and girth increased, my brothers now call me Guddo), but my official first name was noted down as Kiran by an absent-minded manager who admitted me to school for the first time. My schoolmates were predominantly Parsi girls from modern families, and – despite my conservative, middle-class Punjabi roots – I picked up their fashions, tastes and confidence.

I studied philosophy and psychology in college and, soon after I graduated, my aunt arranged my marriage to a Delhi-based engineer who had done his MBA and MS from the US. One of my conditions for marriage was that I wanted to live in Mumbai, or at the very least within India. Definitely not abroad.

But destiny had its own plans.

In Europe in the 1970s

We lived in Mumbai only for a few years until our two kids were born, and then my husband got a job in Dubai. We ended up living in the Middle East for the next 30 years, where I was the quintessential hardworking homemaker. We put in our best efforts towards raising our family and managed to live a very comfortable life together.

Always reluctant to travel, I nevertheless traversed the world with my travel-crazy husband from mid-1970s onwards. I have lost count of the number of countries we have visited in the past four decades, my husband Satynder in the lead.

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Our children grew up and went away. Ten years ago, my husband retired and we moved back to Delhi. Oh, India, finally! I love it here. I am constantly scanning the news on TV channels and Twitter, and I have a wide circle of friends and family to keep me busy.

Not a day goes by when I don’t look back at my life with gratitude at God’s grace. I have never been one for temples and ritualistic displays of religion. My whole life is a prayer. Every breath reminds me of His benevolence, and I am always ready to distribute His blessings to all in my environment, helping the needy and those who serve me in the best way I can. I have been showered with so much love – it is only natural that it overflows on to everyone around me.

The pundits talk of pilgrimage or penance as the way to know God. I only know gratitude, kindness and love. That is my religion.

First published in eShe’s September 2018 issue 

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