Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Was Asked to Describe India...

For those who asked, a bit of descriptive prose about my India experience, round two.

For anyone who has never been here, the best way I can describe India is “in your face”. It is radically different from western life in so many ways. Sights, sounds, and smells come at you full force, non-stop. By the time your mind has processed whatever oddity you have just seen, something else is zooming nearer.
A rikshaw carrying 16 people.
A Hindu temple lit with neon lights.
Chai wallas and roadside vendors of every imaginable variety.
A drunk falling down crossing six lanes of traffic, being helped to safety, and immediately getting up to do it again.
Donkey carts and horses jostling with motorbikes, taxis and vividly decorated long haul trucks.
A dead rat belly up in the middle of the sidewalk.
Cows sleeping on the edges of a busy highway.
Rubbish of all types strewn on the ground.
Electrical wiring hanging in knotted bundles on the outside of buildings.
Women in dirty ragged saris carrying babies beating on your car window at every stop.

India is a place you will either hate because of its unkempt nature, or a place you will learn to love because life thrives despite that nature. Some of my Indian friends have called it “organized chaos”. I don't know about “organized”, but there is a sort of system, once you come to recognize it.

There is a beauty here that defies explanation.

India is ALIVE with music, prayer, joking, arguing, singing and dancing.
It took me more than 3 and a half months on my first visit to come to terms with the experience. By the time I left, a month after that, I had come to think of it as home.

Yes, I still find it difficult and exhausting more often than not. Many things still make me sad and angry, but nothing shocks me, anymore. I have come to expect the unexpected and to not judge what is.

So here I am on my second extended stay. I successfully navigated Mumbai and Delhi's Tibetan colony and am now back in my heart's home on a ridge of the Himalayan foothills, where the first snow of the season fell just two days ago above town and gleamed like a white beacon in the moonlight as the bus wound its way up the tight switchbacks in the wee hours of morning.

Daylight arrives, first bathing Moonpeak in golden light, then pouring into the valleys. Birds are screaming, dogs are barking, the sounds of people cooking and starting their day are all around.

Soon I will make a walk around town to see what has changed, what's the same, whether I encounter any familiar faces.

It is so good to be home.