My first 24 hours in India were spent trying to figure how to leave. Our arrival in the south was met with typical Indian chaos. Transported from airplanes to a small village where few had seen a white person, I was left shocked at the suddenness of drastic change to my little world.
In those first hours my head reeled, “Why did I come here?” – suspicion, fear, anxiety, disgust… emotions that were my problem.
24 hours later, it all settled into place, my mind calmed and I realized that where I was couldn’t be more fascinating. My earlier emotions gave way to awe, trust, calm and peace. India is India, those that have been, especially to non-tourist areas, know of what I am speaking about. India is life on stage.
Since our last visit we have waited for our return, finally we go back this week. Off to Rajasthan and the Pushkar Camel Festival – and with our same closest friends and pro photographers no less, Jonathan Kingston and Paul Liebhardt.
To get in the spirit of things, which is required for India, I went back to my notes and photos, and I found this:
“Our emotions are ever changing. We find ourselves passing judgment on another culture for their lack of progress, for their filth. We envy their simplicity. We look away in disgust at deformity and disease. We shake countless hands. We spend the night in a stranger’s home on invitation. We curse their inefficiency. We joyfully laugh with them. We marvel at their absolute kindness while feeling ashamed of our suspicion of it. We hug strangers. We dance with them.
Visiting India leads to better recognition, though without full understanding, of life’s contrasts. It isn’t just the Indian culture where we find this dichotomy, but in ourselves as well.
We want what the other has. They want what we possess, we want what they don’t have.”