Monday, January 31, 2011

My India Moment

I’ve heard it said many times that you know you will love or hate India the moment you set foot in it.  Some people I’ve spoken to get here and feel like they’ve come home, even though they’ve never been here before.  Others talk about immediately planning their return trip even as their present trip is far from over.  And then there are others who describe India as a terrible place that no one in their right mind would ever visit.  There’s no in between. 

For me this wasn’t the case.  When I arrived, I found a congested and chaotic place.  But I had a purpose here and with that purpose I was willing to suffer any inconveniences that may present themselves… and a number of them did.  I didn’t hate India, but I also didn’t feel any elation upon my arrival.  I was fairly level headed about it.  Being here meant achieving something that for a long time has meant a lot to me.  I didn’t need to worry about how I felt about the place, nor whether I planned to return. 

And then on my third day I had what I will always refer to as my India moment and I knew what side I was on.  As the last of our classes came to end at 6p.m. and all the students quietly filed out of the classroom, I heard the blare of an instrument I didn’t recognize involved in a melody that was equally alien.  I stepped towards the window to see if I could find the source of the sound, but instead I was faced with an orange sky and a burning red sun that hovered just over the horizon.  From the fourth floor window I had a vantage point that I hadn’t experienced yet.  I could see everything, even above the tallest buildings that peaked here and there above the tree canopy that otherwise blanketed the city.  An odd variety of black birds with glistening black feathers except on their ash-colored heads rose and fell in the sky as far into the horizon as I could see, their motion oddly synchronized with the music, whose source was not identifiable and so seemed to come from the city itself.  This moment was only possible here.  In the midst of the filth, the poverty and disorder all it took was to stand back and see the dance of the whole to appreciate that ugly parts can still make something deeply enchanting.  


  1. Linda-Sama has sent me your way, and I'm enjoying reading your accounts of India as I prepare for my own first trip! Your writing is evocative and beautiful and your trepidation closely mirrors my own. Thanks for writing! :)

  2. My pleasure! And thank you for the lovely comment. Feel free to send any questions my way. When I was preparing for my trip, I was lucky enough to have a number of friends who'd been there recently offer me advice on what to take and what to not bother with (or what to avoid!) so I'm happy to pay it forward!