There is something about India that continues to fascinate me. While my daily schedule is often simple, contained and repetitive, my day is always filled with surprise and moments that make me both smile and cringe. Could it be the sea of colour that radiates from the fruit vendors’ carts; the choir of mumbled prayers one hears as they pass the temple; the heart-warming, genuine welcome one receives upon entering a shop; the never-ending orchestra of sound that fills the busy streets; the rich aromas of incenses and flowers that fill your nostrils…Honestly, after being here for 4 months I still don’t know.
India is a batter that includes a number of flavours; tangy, salty, bitter, sweet, zesty and sour. It has its own genre with its own brand of sensations. In my view, the emotions you experience here are similar to those you experience when you watch a firework show: A rocket rapidly shoots up into the sky and secretly bursts someplace unknown. The sea of black is filled with slow-moving, glistening specs of sparkle and colour. For a moment you find yourself captivated, mesmerized, and peacefully lost in its mysterious beauty. As your eyes remain glued to this spectacle of wonder you’re then instantly struck with fear and find yourself gasping in shock. The display ends with a startling and heart-stopping BOOM and without word all the twinkle and light fade away. After a moment, your breathing settles and once again you are calm and at peace. Although you can’t explain the experience and the array of emotions you encountered, for some reason you crave for it to happen again! Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is India… Just when you think you’ve got a grasp of it, things start to make sense and you feel at peace, BOOM; you’re shot into a Universe of perspective and think “What the hell just happened?!” The phrase ‘less is more’ boasts well here because the less you try to ‘understand’ the more you begin to ‘get it’.
I am constantly in a juxtaposition of discomfort and comfort. The culture has this odd balance that you can’t explain, but just works. While part of me feels I have experienced so much, another part of me knows I have barely scratched the surface! Every day is an adventure as there is an opportunity to learn, grow and gain from this place. I can’t even begin to detail what it is exactly that makes me chuckle and smirk; there’s just something about this place that is so uncanny, chaotic, and disorderly, yet at the same time loving, genuine and intriguing. It’s fun to consciously observe my surroundings; to sit back, take it ALL in and just be with whatever is going on. Not trying to control it, change it, judge it or reject – just notice it, allow it to consume my being, and then let it go.
The people here have such a unique tolerance; one would swear resilience is ingrained in their soul! For example, while driving the other day Prishuk and I got rear-ended. A car hit a motorcyclist who then hit us. After the point of contact, everyone stopped briefly, brushed themselves off, shrugged their shoulders and carried on. No police, no insurance, no fines… Just a few exchanges of words, a head bobble and off we all went.
Another time I witnessed a disagreement so absurd, it made The Jerry Springer Show seem appealing. Two men argued for 20 minutes about how vegetables should be stacked in their road-side fruit and vegetable stall. Raised voices led to pushing causing their poorly stacked towers to fall to the ground. *Que sigh and headshake.*
Kids run around barefoot, while their parents wear shoes. Construction workers operate jackhammers in sandals without wearing goggles. Showing your knees is looked down upon, but by golly do publicly release any internal gas at any point in time without shame or the need to excuse yourself.
As The Mad Hatter said, “There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter.”
India, what a Mad-nificent place!