India had me. It’s the kind of country that grows on you. At first you arrive and wonder how on earth you’ll make a week and not get some disease or get pulverised in the traffic, and little by little the noise, chaos, colours and spice (in every sense of the word) get right under your skin.
Don’t get me wrong. Some days I felt truly overwhelmed, with senses thoroughly overloaded. I missed my comfortable home, pillow, mattress and the cleanliness I had always deemed necessary. The days I had to fight with rickshaw drivers for fair treatment and the day when I realised we’d been duped by false promises of an Ayuervedic cooking course, these were days I wanted to take to my bed and stay out of India’s way for a bit. The hardest were the stray dogs, painfully thin mummy dogs, cows with a rope tied from front leg to neck (to prevent what I’m not sure…do cows make a dash for freedom as a matter of course?), and the general state of grime and poverty that confronts you at every moment.
But soon enough I’d need chai and yoga and lunch with friends (that required a speedy scooter ride through the city), and there it would be again – aliveness. And that’s India – alive, in every colour under the sun. There is no “western” gray middle ground, no lonely individualism and no isolation behind minimalistic white walls. It’s community and extremes and in-your-face living.
The yoga was a blessing. How amazing to be able to jump on a plane, head to India and practice for five weeks with a diminutive, iridescent yogi, just to deepen one’s practice? And how amazing to take five weeks out of one’s life and live in an alternative universe, so very different from all the routines and worries and commitments back home? And now that I am back, I feel that another few months would’ve been perfect, and why not just open a little guest house there, decorated beautifully, with a garden out back, rescued dogs on couches and yummy, healthy veggie meals cooking in the kitchen?
I feel a little like running off again. But yet, it’s also nice to see my cat, hug my mom and head to Woolies for groceries. Feelings of ‘spacey-ness’ will probably take a while to subside; I’m just hoping to integrate some of the ‘life’ I found in India – the very present, rainbow-hued aliveness – that will make facing 2011 challenges head on easier…No mediocrity or censoring allowed.