The magic, the illusion, the light feeling, the innocence of my tourist nature, the giggling, the miss “I know it all” are basically gone. Without asking for permission, India managed in two days to carve a couple of deep holes into my body and patched them up with all sorts of materials and smells and colours. Some, are not that nice. I have never been aware as I am here, of the heaviness of my feet and the little grace I have in drawing invisible boundaries with a smaller version of myself in the middle of my misshaped circle. Useless effort. The extra space has to come from within, outside there is none. India will clearly show you the validity of this sentence.
This is why I travel. To be able to expand and break all need of walls and fences and habit to judge or alter the truth in order to understand or accept it.
Freed from delivering the premises above, I’d like to walk on the streets wearing a transparent sarong made of fresh air, with plenty of room for moving. Because, you see, when people smile here, I feel like dancing with them, in between all cows, dogs, garbage and fruit stands, rickshaws, poverty, terrible traffic and crazy loud horns. Since we are, after all, on Hindu sacred grounds and I can come up with my own God, I vision it like a giant machine swallowing and regurgitating everybody in a vortex of fresh air, clean clothes, plenty of food, Indian music, confetti and flowers, henna tattoos, bright saris and white men shirts and ironed pants.
Talking about religion, 2 days ago, I saw the biggest Hindu temple ever built and while I might have been impressed with its majestic features, I couldn’t help but thinking how many schools and hospitals and care centres could have been built with the same amount of money.
I don’t know how it feels like to live in a nation where everything is so scarce. Where air and space are luxuries. I won’t indulge in saying more about my personal feelings with regards to the aspects of the Hindu religion, which conditions people in all sorts of ways (positive and negative), but I will say that as a leader of any sorts, my heart would break constantly.
I am not sure about the people, yet but contrary to my expectations, they seem incredibly sweet. I guess this is why I want to dance with them, hold the babies, hug these beautiful women or touch their skillfully tattooed hands and jewelled arms. Indian eyes are pure magic and when they smile at you, that magic will feel like love. No exaggeration.
I have not felt unsafe nor harassed in any way on the streets of Delhi. My arms got a lot of attention due to the tattoos but that’s about it. I really feel sorry for India’s reputation and while bad things can happen, I am convinced that a good amount of common sense and respect for the culture, makes this country doable for everyone. In terms of safety, at least. For the rest, prepare mentally. This will be your most hardcore trip. I am by now convinced that it should be mandatory for everyone to come here and experience ALL this at least once in their lifetime.
As for me, my biggest challenge will be to understand their spirituality and their ways. I remember being curious and reading about India’s philosophy as early as high school. The only difference is that back then I would imagine India literally out of this world. Now that I am here, I just feel really happy to walk among them and assist to their daily routines, no matter the shock and wonder that I have experienced on some occasions. Literally, each street corner tells a story that will probably make you think about every aspect of your life and be thankful for it.
I am curious about their thoughts and how they feel about themselves, their loved ones, their country and hope to get a better insight but once again, no matter how contrasting our lives are, we crave for the same things – peace of mind, warmth and affection. I really don’t feel any different from them.
*I wrote this on my flight out of Delhi. Now I am in Varanasi, which literally blew my mind. If my character won’t gain strength here, I don’t know where it will. I feel like crying and laughing and just being peaceful and marvelled all at the same time. Will write more about it.