Journeying into India

ďQuand je serai grande, jíirai voir ma famille en Inde
Quand je serai grande, je me marierai en sariĒ

ďWhen Iíll be a big girl, I will visit my family in India.
When Iíll be a big girl, Iíll wear a saree for my weddingĒ


This is what I was saying to my mum when I was a kid.

My ancestors left India 150 years ago as indentured labors to work in Guadeloupeís cane fields. But the 5-years contract was not respected by the French rulers so they stayed in Guadeloupe, had to give up their religion, culture, identity and to fight to build up a new life in this island so far from India.

I was born and educated in France and was not exposed to the Indian culture when I was young so I always felt surprised by this connection with India and my ancestors.

If the connection itself is not unusual, its intensity that makes me travel in India so often can be seen as a kind of craziness. A craziness, which made me come 14 times in 6 years. And this craziness about India is not a common feeling shared by everybody.

I canít bear the way India is seen in France. Not that what they showing or telling is not true. Itís just that itís only a small part of India. India canít be reduced to Bollywood, Mumbaiís slums, Varanasiís burning Ghats or the Taj Mahal. We canít only speak about it with figures showing the contrast between poor and rich, booming economy and lack of education.

Itís much more than that: itís a beautiful diamond with multiple facets, with its own colours and vibrations.

Thatís what I wanted to share when I wrote this book about my discovery of India and roots searching.

This is Indiaís energy I wanted to show with the cover book realized by Akhilanka, an artist and healer from Mysore. 

Christelle Gourdine is a banker in Paris, the descendant of indentured workers taken to the French Caribbean (Guadeloupe and Martinique) from the ports of Kolkata, Chennai and Pondicherry. She is intensely passionate about India, and wants to keep her Indian roots alive, even though in the absence of adequate documentations it has become very difficult for her to obtain a PIO card. She can be reached on

February 2011

click here to enlarge

 >> Cover Story
 >> From the Editor