Remembering India

January the 8th, 2012.
 Flight LH 750 Frankfurt — Calcutta: welcome to India.
 It’s two o’clock in the morning: the air is moist, dense, full of the darkness of night. A taxi ride me through dark streets, animated by the fires of those who don’t have any other home. A ghost town, strange “bicycles” bumping in the night, the sound of car horns, policemen, distant lights …
 Well, here we are : a good dose of Autan and my sleeping bag.
 Goodnight … And sweet dreams.
 “Namaste, namaste! Anti, Anti … Chocolate! “.
 I start to understand something, in this intricate and fascinating city. It’s already a week: I’m getting used to the traffic that knows no rest, to the animals and to the zoo with two, three, four wheels and two legs that populates the streets. “Tuc tuc”, motorcycles, taxis, cars, bicycles, trams and buses: a bell is trying to make its way in the deafening noise. He is a “richshaw-puller, a rare species of” horse people “ that you can find only here …
 City of joy or of painful hell?
 I began my service with the Sisters of Mother Teresa, an oasis of peace and silence in the folds of AJC Bose Road. In Pren Dam, home for sick and dying, a journey of inner discovery IS waiting for me: when I will leave at the end of February I will not be the same.
 I have heard that in Calcutta is the prayer that sustains and heals the sufferings. Now I can understand this phrase, after walking through the poor areas around Sudder Street, after seeing entire families living in the streets, after roaming the corridors of the slums that runs alongside the rails …
 In how many places will nuns and volunteers be able to arrive, bringing that little drop of joy and love that will one day perform the miracle?
 But now you must be wondering : “It ‘s India all about this? Where are Mumbai, New Delhi, the beaches of Kerala, the forts of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and the Golden temple of Amristar? “.
 Animated by the same curiosity I decided to explore a little piece of this immense continent.
 Thus I find myself on Duronto Express, an efficient Indian train that took me to New Delhi: my journey from east to west, with a quick escape to the north, and back.
 Will this country share my silences and endure my cries of despair, when I will look confused the two sides of the same coin? Will I understand the how the dazzling lights of India’s universities and avant-garde luxury hotel can live together with the dark face of the kids slums that play among waste and putrid water?
 I have lost myself in the streets of Agra, I have experienced the tourist target profiteers in Delhi, I have talked to my soul in the silence Amristar, I have observed of unknown divinities taking shapes under the moon that illuminate the holy city of Varanasi …
 During theses days, I have let myself change from what I saw, from the emotions I felt and from the people I met. I let myself be fascinated by this country that has the consistency of a dream, made of bells, flowers, candles, holy rivers, incense and women dressed in the brightest colors.
 In India, death and life go hand in hand, and challenge each other, laughing, on the steps of the ghats who bow to the Ganges…
 Is this a rapid ascent to the sky or endless rebirth on earth?
 February, 23 2012. This morning the wind blows, it swells my sails.
 It ‘s time to go: farewell India.
 I have a phrase in mind: “When leave you lose yourself … Or, you find it.”

Originally published at on March 21, 2016.

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