Two Weeks in India

by Kaitlyn Hickmann

Originally published at kahmedia.com on August 30, 2016. Make sure to visit this great blog — and see even more photos from this post there!

India. I’ve been in India for two weeks. It confounds me that two weeks can feel like a lifetime, but as I perused the shelves of a temple’s library last night, I smiled at the title, “Timelessness in Time,” so maybe I am picking up some of the culture.

I don’t know if I’ll ever not be overwhelmed, here. Between the Hindu ceremonies and the meals and the countless new experiences for which I am immensely grateful, I miss time to recharge. To rest. To reflect.

My brain struggles to keep up with the constant stream of basic, day-to-day activities I’m relearning. Eating. Sleeping. Conversing. Writing. Reading. Walking. Dressing. I often feel like an infant. Simple things evoke strong reactions, whether of reverence or of disgust. Diligent self-examination follows.

I would love to pet my dog right now, or toss a frisbee around CC’s quad, or spend a night Netflix bingeing like never before with a pint of vegan Ben & Jerry’s and no tomorrow.

Comfort, thus far in my Indian stay, has been rare.

But, in the midst of the heat, dust and incense smoke; new faces and copious amounts of rice; jasmine flowers (mallikai puu) and little boys asking to shake my hand; and feeling lost and feeling found, there are moments of transcendent clarity.

When my host dad is speaking to me about destiny as we sit on temple steps and, out of nowhere, it begins to rain.

When I don a freshly washed salwar kameez after a cool shower.

When my rickshaw driver laughs and laughs at the five American (TALL) women who try to fit into the backseat, successfully, might I add!

When my taataa, who hardly speaks English and generally remains silent, emerges from his bedroom in the morning, approaches me, and says, slowly, “my granddaughter.”

When I notice the light of our shrine’s candles reflecting in my ammaa‘s eyes as she prays to Krishna.

In these moments, I let go. Breathe in … and out. In these moments, my total disorientation makes me feel more oriented than I ever have in the U.S. My body becomes my comfort and my home.

These are the moments I think of when I need to remind myself that, as a wise friend once told me, “Wherever I am, I am where I’m meant to be.”

When I type the word, I-n-d-i-a, and it is more to me now than a concept of a place half a world away.

Madurai, Tamilnadu, India — en vitu (my home).

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