calls Los Angeles home but grew up overseas, living in Spain,
India, Japan, Venezuela and Singapore. This U.S. Journeywoman
loves to travel and feels most at home when she's on the road.
A big Nature lover, Johanna is currently developing a documentary
series for television regarding women in conservation. She writes...
moved to India when I was seven years old. Our family was American
but we had lived in Madrid since I was three months old. The
only language I spoke was Spanish. Though my parents spoke English
to each other, I considered myself a proud Spaniard. I hated
learning English and purposely failed my summer classes.
| Our new home...
arrived in New Delhi to a heat that was oppressive
and a filth that blanketed everything. In the car
on the way to the hotel, I sat in wonder, eyes wide
open, taking in the wild and exotic setting. Skinny
cows abounded, as did women in colorful saris carrying
pots on their heads and men in dhotis, some lined
up for a barber's cut on the side of the street.
arriving we drove up to view our new home. Behind
us, gates closed and uniformed and armed men with
rifles stood at the guard house. The car came to a
stop under a canopied driveway. Eager, smiling, curious
Indian faces awaited, their heads bowed as we exchanged
greetings in a waiting line. These people, it turned
out, were our servants and their families. "Sirvientes?"
I didn't understand. Some of them, we were told, lived
in the servants' quarters at the back of our property.
This was very puzzling indeed. I had truly entered
an alien world.
was the fourteen year-old daughter of our driver,
Surijpal. I don't remember when I made my first acquaintance
with her but we became quick friends. I admired and
was fascinated by her. I don't remember how, but we
managed to communicate. I spoke Spanish and bits and
pieces of bad English. She spoke Hindi. Maybe she
spoke some bad English, too. I honestly don't recall.
What I do recall is our sweet, innocent, mutual adoration.
I remember taking
her to my room and putting on a Spanish record. I
sang and danced along enthusiastically. She stood
timidly, watching me. I realized she'd never danced
before, so I took her by the hand and showed her how.
I emphasized that dancing was about expressing joy,
and the more she moved, the louder she giggled. Then
she taught me how to dance Hindu style. I loved it.