If you have plans to go to India, it seems that everyone has advice for you. Whether they have visited the country or not, with the duration of their apparent (or lack thereof) journey irrelevant, people want to share their Indian opinion. Advice can be appreciated when going to a completely foreign land, but I’ve realized that for my own journey, I need to take a step back. Other’s opinions on India have started to seep into my trip. I find myself saying things like I should do this or I need to do that. While I don’t want to spend my journey sitting in westernized establishments eating cheeseburgers and pulling up sport stats on working wi-fi (if the broncos make it to the Super Bowl I will be in Denver in a heartbeat!), I do need to be true to my own needs and short comings. I want to have a shanti shanti trip.
This self-awarness intrigued her. Though fully covered in naturally died silk, she laughed, and the robe appeared to unravel only slightly
Over the last 10 days, India has revealed a few secrets to me; my visit with her is going to revolve widely around my ability to be assertive and self-aware. As a traveler, I don’t like to plan. No, especially on a trip that’s end is determined by how well I can hustle, most days are defined by getting out of the door and allowing the wind to take me where it will. While this tactic has served me well, in India, it is put to the test. Wind isn’t always able to weave through airtight buildings and billions of people. Here, when it does, it can carry outside influence. While I bake in the sun, trying to decipher who is a hustler and who genuinely has interested in me, I’ve found myself thinking about India through the framework of others. It could be the voice of a person speaking India’s praises, with romanticized “anything can happens,” or “how a simple walk on the street can lead to an enchanting moments.” Or, it can be self-conscious tendencies berating my ego with thoughts of what would other travelers, whom I’ve grown to respect and almost immolate, be doing now? Would they hide out on the incredibly pleasant rooftop of their hotel, or would they be down in the thick of it? While I can look at it so many ways it all returns to the fact that India is a unique place and overwhelming. It is much harder travel than I’ve done in some time. It isn’t easy like other destinations in Southeast Asia, and maybe more reflection is needed.
One more step to self-awareness, one more glimpse past the veil
To give some context to my thoughts, since I’ve arrived in Jaipur a few days ago, I’ve been on the move. While Kolkata was more hectic and populated, Jaipur seems more targeted. In only three days time I’ve undoubtedly felt as if every person I’ve met has an agenda. The problem is the agenda is completely clandestine. While other countries it is easy to sift through a person’s intentions, the Indians I’ve meet are harder to crack. This, of course, is based only on the small population of people I’ve meet while wandering through a tourist-oriented city. My bullshit radar has not quite calibrated to the Indian brand, and it seems like it won’t be an easy task. The Indian hustlers are a different breed, whom are able to pry on my many a’ weaknesses. It makes me have to approach my travel from a new angle. This, though, is the nature of the game. The point of travel is to understand and harness the ability to see the world from a new lens.
She giggles again, and the colorful silk slides closer to the floor. Only an inch, but what a beautiful glimpse of dark, smooth, carmel skin.
One miss conception that is easy to live by is an underlying belief we owe somebody something. While I will always feel indebted to my family and close friends, its repayment does not come at the sake of my health or well-being. With India, one thing I’ve found is many of my interactions here, or those that previously regarded its nature, instill feelings of debt to a person, place, or activity. These feeling lead to guilt. I can know that my body needs sleep or quiet, but it will be combated by a feeling of obligation to the street, scrapping for new experiences. It can leave a traveler exhausted and defeated, but this is where my real journey in India truly beings. Being aware of what my body needs, as well as why I’ve come here, as opposed to other’s “best practices,” is of utmost importance. India is a place to discover a new gear in the drive to becoming the person you are, both in the present and the future. The well-oiled vessel is only possible through being aware of your purpose. Once that truth is revealed, one needs only to be assertive to attain it. Maybe a few chai or lassie stops on the way to take in the beautiful scenery wouldn’t hurt either.
The floor like a snake charmer has the veil in a trance. It continues to fall, slowly, rhythmically. I can now catch the first glimpse of her eye. The first view into her soul.