In 1995 when I was maybe 10 years old I was adopted from an orphanage in India by my Australian family. In November 2001 my Mum and I spent a month touring my homeland. It was nearly 7 years since I was in India and this was my first trip back.
I wanted to go back to India because I wanted to see how India was. Had it changed since I lived there? What would it be like going back there now? And I wanted to experience the culture and lifestyle. I thought I would remember lots of things in India and it would all be familiar but I was wrong.
Before we got to India I was imagining how it was going to feel and what reaction Indians would have when they saw me with my Mum, a white woman. The kids in the orphanage would remember me but what would they think of me? I didn't think much about my birth family because I knew I wouldn't find them or see them again so it's like I tend to forget about them, but I don't mind talking about them when people ask questions. I don't really care how old I am because I've never known, so I didn't expect to find answers to that question on our trip.
India wasn't the same as I remembered. It all looked new to me because I'm used to my life in Australia now. We travelled heaps far, went through some villages, cities, towns and travelled all over the north part. In the month we were travelling we went from Chennai in the south to Delhi in the north. We saw the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Kama Sutra temples in Khajuraho, and we went down the river Ganges in a boat in Varanasi.
It felt like India had changed a lot because it wasn't the way I remembered it, but I know this is because I've grown up and my perception of things is different now.
I was really looking forward to going back to my orphanage and I was happy that I would see the kids who were there when I was. When we arrived things happened differently to how I imagined. The carers I knew weren't there any longer and neither were the children I had known, so I was disappointed a bit but still happy to see my orphanage and the few girls and carers who remembered me. Boys have to leave the orphanage when they are about 10 years old so all the older children were girls. There were still nearly 300 children in the orphanage but they weren't doing adoptions now so the children have to stay there.
I knew my way around but everything seemed smaller than I remembered because I had grown up. There were lots of babies sitting in cots and standing. The carers gave them biscuits to stop them crying during our visit. I was worried about the babies and how they were not looked after properly. There were only a few carers who just wiped the babies and were not loving them. The babies looked so sad and weak and skinny. I was sad that the children there won't get adopted. I felt happy going back to visit but I am glad that I'm not there any more.
The best parts of my trip were when I went to the orphanage with Mum and our friends, my new "uncle" Bobby and my new "grandma" - meeting everyone in the tour group we travelled with for the last 2 weeks - visiting an isolated town called Chanderi and a nearby village - staying in a resort in Orchha in really cool, air-conditioned tents with fridges and colour TVs - visiting all the great tourist places like the Taj Mahal - and also meeting lots of nice friendly Indians.
The worst parts were when people followed us everywhere and annoyed me with questions, trying to make us buy things. Also they were pushing and shoving on trains and buses. I found some things boring, like seeing too many temples. When we used transport such as the local bus or jeep I didn't like it either as it was uncomfortable. It was scary to look through the front windscreen at trucks and buses heading straight at us on single-lane roads.