Like most Indian families in London, when we were growing up, our annual holiday consisted of a day trip to the seaside in a coach. About thirty families descended on Margate or Clacton-on-sea with our homemade curries. That was all we could afford. We really had baaji on the beach.
After my first summer job whilst at uni, I saved enough to go abroad for the first time. I decided to go to the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, perhaps because at the time there was a Benelux two-week train pass.
With little research, I packed my small rucksack and took a ferry and train to Amsterdam. By the time I got there, I was so hungry that I bought some chips at Central Station. When I emerged at about 11pm, a man must have seen my chips and offered me some Coke. I was about to admire such considerate Dutch hospitality, when he pulled out a packet that was not the Coke I was expecting!
I then went hunting for the youth hostel on foot late at night without a clue where I was going or whether there were any beds there.
Now, nearly 35 years later, I have returned to Amsterdam.I didn’t know at the time, because travel was a luxury most couldn’t afford, that in those interim years I would go to all seven continents.