BY PAMELA KEECH
For Claire and Thomas Nisonger, travel is romance. They honeymooned in Haiti and celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary by meeting at the Empire State Building. “Just like in the movies,” says Tom.
Both are IU professors; she is a molecular biologist and he is retired from the School of Library and Information Science. Every college break, they’re on the road. They’ve been to more than 60 countries, including China, Russia, Vietnam, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Turkey, and Morocco. Last December they added India on a tour, “Land of the Maharajahs,” booked through General Tours, which creates private itinerary journeys. They had their own guide, car, and driver for two idyllic weeks.
They began in Delhi, then traveled to the northwestern state of Rajasthan where they visited the capital Jaipur, known as the “Pink City” because of the color of its buildings; Jodhpur, the “Blue City” for the same reason; and Udaipur, which they thought the most beautiful of all. They rode an elephant to reach a fort on the northern border and saw a tiger at Ranthambore National Park. They stayed in five-star hotels that were formerly palaces of maharajahs. At the Taj Mahal, famous for its beauty by moonlight, they were surprised by the irony of a total eclipse of the moon.
In New Delhi, Tom was enthralled by the monument that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was shot: “They have plaster molds of his footsteps as he was walking to his assassination, and a memorial right over the place where he was assassinated.”
Claire is a birder with more than 700 species on her life list. She added 42 new birds in India. “The most beautiful was a kingfisher that’s very colorful, five or six different bright colors,” she says. Neither will forget seeing wild peacocks, the national bird of India and emblematic of grace and mysticism.
The Nisongers continue to travel. Over spring break they went to South Carolina just to see the azaleas in bloom and are considering taking a Norwegian cruise this summer.