India, India, oh India. How do I feel about you, India? I’m ready and not ready to go. As I leave you, I agree you are, by your own description, “Incredible” India... you’re also “incredibly crazy” India. When Robyn left, I suggested India is a place you appreciate more once you’ve left. I think this is spot on. So many beautiful things and people... yet so much frustration and accosting of your senses, personal space, conditioned mindset. The things I love: the “frankness”, the sense of giving, the selflessness, the attitude toward “guests”, the simple innovations, the hardwork, the ability to just do what needs to be done and not complain about it, the be-in-the-present mentality, the shanti shanti-ness, the side head nod, the namaste, and the constant reminder to be grateful for what I have. Certainly these things outweigh the trash, dirt, pollution, never-ending haggling and honking? Absolutely. I do struggle with leaving, knowing you have SO much more for me to gain from you... but, all your one billion people, honking at once... I need a break as well ;) ha. You’ve been amazing and horrendous. You’ve been extremely fun and totally miserable. You’ve been delicious and disgusting. You have really really good honest wonderful people... and some low down schistery ones too. You’re on the verge of modern and soooo last century. You’ve got massive millionaires, and millions of mass poverty. One thing is for sure sure, you are a country of contrasts.
I'm having a hard time narrowing it down, but one of my favorite things about Indians, is their incredibly wonderful “frankness” with each other; things just are what they are. Good or bad, it is what it is, and you move on. I’ve mentioned before that it sounds (in hindi) like people are yelling at each other a lot. Please and thanks aren’t used much. Lots of cutting in lines if there is even the tiniest opening and not much attention to personal space. Cut off, cut in, cut short...People just say and do what's needed. ‘Get out of the way!’ ‘Do this, do that!’ ‘Give me that.’ At first it took me off guard.... but now I’m joining the flow and even appreciating it. In USA, we are often times too concerned with offending someone, being rude, but really there’s an honest logic in it all!! I recall in college we had this small-ish path all around campus. All the time people would just stop in the middle of it for whatever reason. If you were coming up behind, you’d have to go around and think to yourself, ‘how rude, why don’t they move to the side’, but you didn’t say it. If you did say it, the other person is thinking, ‘how rude, just go around’. It’s always this ridiculous battle of who is doing what to mess up what YOU are doing. When really, just go around or move to the side, either is fine or neither, and none of it is done just to irritate you!! There’s a very intrinsic egotistic sense in Americans, where we take the smallest hiccup as an personal attack on us, of wasting our precious time. The dude who cuts you off in traffic, the women who takes out a checkbook in the grocery line, the doctor that makes you wait an hour. In India, whatever happens happens and why stress over it? The guy who wrote, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff” must have been here :) Shit happens, all day, everyday, and 99% of the time its not purposely meant to upset you. Even if it is, why let it get under your skin? Our ego seems to be the main cause of our strife.. not the actual act. So, I will always try to remember the Indian that got his foot run over by a rickshaw and just says, “no problems.” Ha :).
|One cafe had a sign that said, "leave your ego outside."|
I like that:)
This is just one lesson to be learned from India. There are tons (I’m the queen of finding a lesson in annnnything). I suppose you can learn that one from somewhere else, a book, or your own intuition for that matter, but the visual (and real memory) is always powerful. Analogy: you can get desensitized by the media to poverty... but when you see and experience it in person- whoa, totally different. India is willing to teach you many things... but being open to it is the number one factor. You can take as much as you are willing (it’s generous that way)... but being willing includes looking past all the stuff your mind has been conditioned to say “eww” too. Have you heard the story about the jar that is “full” of rocks? You can see and agree that it’s full, but then someone comes along and pours in sand. Then you say it’s full (and it really looks full), but someone else comes along and pours some water in too? I feel like india is the sand that helps fill the gaps. You may have a rich and wonderful and “full” life, but I can’t imagine anyone not gaining something from here. Soooo.... c’mon over! Here’s even my top three tips:
First: Give yourself a good amount of time to visit. One month minimum... more better. You need a while to adjust. It’s culture shock crazy. I was having a chai on the street this morn when I saw a woman casually walk to a fresh cow pie, take a big chunk of it with her bare hand, roll it into a ball and carry it into her house. At least one hundred people around and I was the only one who seemed to notice. Hmm...
Second: Allow for days to just stay in your room (see tip #1). You make think you are wasting time, but you are saving yourself from burnout. But you’re super patient? Still, without a doubt, some days you will have had enough of “Which country?” “Come in my shop” “no buy, just look” and the never-ending open hands. Don’t avoid it, you need to experience these things.. and then you need some days to stay in your hotel and avoid them at all costs!
(..also, some days you’ll be stuck in your room for another reason: to be running distance from the toilet, the inevitable side effect of an india visit ;)
Third: As mentioned above, Come completely open minded and ready to go with the flow. India will be testing your patience to no end (see tip #2). 1/2 the items on the menu unavailable. Busses late or not showing at all. Getting locks in your hotel. 2 hours for delivery of your food. Pay for one thing, get another. Power outages, all day long. No hot water. ATM not working. ah ah ah... India says “No hurry, no worry, no chicken curry.” :)
You may have a plan for India, but India has it’s own plan for you!
So thanks India-- for a great time! I appreciate you, I'll certainly remember you, I plan to come back to you.. but for now, Im moving on!!! Hellllloooooo Nepal!!!!!!!