Visit India and return to normal life entirely the same person? I’m not sure that’s possible.
I know I didn’t, and I wasn’t yearning to go in the first place. I definitely didn’t go in search of meaning… Just a good feed and a bit of yoga.
But living amongst such congestion forces you to reconsider your attitude. You can’t help but respect the way people exist so woven into one anothers’ space. The congestion is mind boggling. The mild manner in this congestion is a complete boggle. I would never call it patience, no way. But there is a commendable tolerance on display.
For every holiday maker, food traveler, aspiring yogi, boyfriend of a girl who wants to go, shopaholic, spiritual seeker, Israeli or cricket nut, the change is different. India offers such a range of faces that getting lost for years, jumping from idea to path to moment and still not finding that purpose is more than likely, likely.
For me, I won’t forget the love. We spent three months around Rishikesh, a holy place of Hindu pilgrimage, and our experience is defined by that. Grins outnumber frowns, handshakes outnumber waves, positive energy is as thick as incense, and it’s infectious. Colours pop, smells excite and offend and you’ll find most conversations quickly reach depth.
But just when you get it sorted; when the food, the speed, the noise and the love balance out, India will kick you right in the guts, literally. And you’ll find you self bedridden for days, aching unmanageably, shitting through the eye of a needle and wondering whyyyyy meeeeeee?
That’s Mother India; she’s all wise, all questioning and relentlessly unforgiving. Find yourself living ahead of your own time, acting without connection or intention and she’ll rip you a new one by means of digestive mayhem.
Inevitably a time comes when the wow/awesome factor is outdone by too many really?/get f…ed moments, and it’s all over. What once you found enlightening is suddenly exhausting and it’s time to return to that “normal life”.
But you’ve changed. You’ve learned something, many things. For one, you’ve learned your limit; you’ve learned it’s OK to be from the West and it’s OK to go back there. It’s OK to have things and find joy in owning. It’s OK to sit on a toilet seat and sleep on a memory foam mattress. You were born into this version of life, into this role and that alone allows the opportunity to “have”.
But what you’ve really learned is that while it’s OK to have these things, it’s not OK to lust, want or mourn for them when you don’t. Enjoy them but without the attachment that makes it a measurement of success or contentment. They won’t define you and they can’t love you back.
Which brings me back to love. India taught me to love broadly. Not like Valetines day and not like Hollywood, but in yourself, in your intention to be you. Love you, love this and love it with pride. Afterall, it is true what they say: you can’t give it if you don’t have it, and love is the most honest of gifts.