1 and done?
So as I prepare to leave india, I have to say it has been an experience. There have been some magical moments and some moments that I wish never existed. I have seen the good and simplistic lives the people here desire to live. They live all their lives well below their means and they are a proud people. They love to show off photos and they are blown away by the fact that I am from USA. I find that the more you listen and shut the fuck up with your own expectations, that is where the magic of India begins.
From the start, I had grand intentions of seeing all of India and spending months here, but rather got stuck in my fear and stayed in my comfort zone. I didn’t go to all the places I wanted to see or do the things that I wanted to do, but that is okay because India will wait for me. She gave me a taste of her magical deliciousness and the smells, the sights the sounds and for all the bad I saw, I felt her good, deep within the spirit of my soul. There were magical moments where kids were so excited to see me. At one temple that Shanthi took me to, “mountru darga”, the children copied me and smiled when i said hello. They followed me around the temple saying hello, hello, hello. It was magical, seeing these children with not a lot to eat and no “Stuff” per say, to be so happy at just seeing me. I felt so alive and so wonderful in that moment and thinking to myself, “We really have made a mess of things” It furthered my thoughts that the less we have, the happier we truly are.
The western way of thinking doesn’t work here. As much as we want to come here and do things “our way”, it is not gonna happen. Sure there are frustrations when you ask an auto driver to do something and they take you the long way, maybe the reason is not that they want to make more money on you but that you need more time to experience the journey. The horns will never stop honking and the drivers will never learn to be better drivers. It is the way it has to be and no amount of expectation from the west is going to change that. Society suffers from what it tolerates and maybe we tolerate people telling us the way that they think things should be. Go into a situation and just let it unfold as the universe suggests. When you train someone to be subservient or follow your command, you are in a sense inflating your Ego per se. I saw this more than once on my journey and it was disgusting. Doing business here reminds me of working in the events industry. You have an expectation or client expectation, you go to the hotel and tell them the expectation and then the event happens and it doesn’t go like your expectation. The client blames you for not executing according to their expectation (EGO) and then you feel less of a human because of it, as if you have failed in some way. India is the same white tiger. You cannot truly tame a tiger. It has instinct and may be beaten to submission, but instinctually it is a tiger and will live with veracious reciprocity When traveling in india, Go with the flow and get rid of your expectation. Learn to sleep in rooms that don’t have air conditioning, learn that 5:30 may mean 6:15, learn that even though you want to pay 40 rupee somewhere it may cost you 60. Learn that money doesn’t motivate. The people here that work are happy to be working and that the all mighty dollar doesn’t get you what you want. I have found that smiling gets a smile back and respect is a lot stronger than the dollar. Take an interest in what the indians are trying to do, rather than a position of do it my way or else. Learn about new religions and gods and find out the traditions and why they are held in high esteem. When someone wants to have a conversation with you, sit down and listen and smile.
I didn’t come here to find myself, i came here to be myself. I don’t try and fit in with the locals as I am not local. Just because I wear shorts and short sleeve shirts doesn’t mean I don’t respect the culture, it just means I am an american tourist, looking around and enjoying the sights. India has overwhelmed me with all of its beauty, religion, languages and culture. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be back, It means when i do come back, I am bringing more money, more time and more solitude. I will listen less to the tourists and more to the locals. I will eat at more hole in the wall food stands and less at sit down restaurants. I will save and carry a much smaller backpack. I will walk more and travel when it is cooler rather than summer. I will do more with less. Creature comforts and habit probably distracted from this trips true adventure potential.
In all, I love India. I love the raw sewage, the colors, the smell of the spices and markets. and the unexpected smiles from the people as you walk down the unmarked streets and take it all in. I love asking locals for food recommends and watching bollywood movies. The fact that they are truly believe in love here and not working all the time (even though they do) makes me realize that life is good.
A final realization is that in spending time with my cousin in Tamil Nadu, My father had a bigger impact on the family than I could ever realize. Seeing my cousin with a blanket that my father made as gifts for all the siblings sitting on my makeshift bed made me cry. I divested a lot of stuff (all) that my parents left behind. In a way it was a soul cleansing, but I realized upon seeing the blanket how much of an effect it had on my cousin. He said he used to wear it as a ghost cape all around the house. Took it with him to college and then the journey across the water. He then revealed how many of the musicals my father listened to and recommended made their way to his house. It was in that moment that i realized no matter how small the effect, we all affect people in some way. I don’t know what my legacy will be, or if their will be one, but I have left a small mark on this world and that’s good enough for me
Until next time…
PS. Upon arriving back at the hostel, I was asked to help “Intern” and get the hostel prepared for what will be an inevitable freight train of success. I committed myself to a month with a very strict food budget and my room accommodations taken care of in exchange for 4 hours of work per day 6 days a week. I can only learn from this experience and become better. The staff really likes me and and I truly respect them. It is a great team and look forward to the month.
Originally published at www.drivebyblogger.com on June 1, 2015.