This is written like a journal entry, it is the only way I can think to come close to expressing my impressions of India.
I had often heard the expression “assault on your senses” I realize now that I had never really experienced anything close to what India is capable of doing to the senses of a first time North American visitor.
Landing in Delhi is probably a rough way to start but the group of twenty coming from all over the world assembled there just over a week ago. We are a rather strange and eclectic group and after sharing a week together in Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and now Agra it is starting to feel a bit like a travelling Agatha Christie novel as interesting a cast of characters one could dream up.
In some ways just allowing yourself to look and take in what is presented you by the mass of humanity that passes by each day is almost too much to comprehend. There is a post apocalyptic feel to what you are seeing and experiencing. The air is unbreathable, the water undrinkable but there is a fullness of life that is unmistakeable as cows, dogs and people coexist in ancient streets and deplorable conditions.
As we slowly make our way from airport to train station to luxury hotels i see and feel my white privilege and need to understand what that really means. I feel more gratitude for what I have and the people in my life than I ever have.
India is not just a place on the map, it feels like an entity that is ripping open my heart and allowing me to see things that would have been impossible to see any other way.
This morning as the sun was rising I stood in front of the Taj Mahal with tears streaming down my face. I have never been so moved by seeing a structure in my life.
This afternoon I am heading out on the adventure of a lifetime, the weeks leading up to it have been an adventure in themselves. The Corona virus and numerous other unexpected roadblocks led me to comment to the organizer of the trip:
“I knew India had things to teach me, I just thought she might let me arrive before the learning began”
I will be visiting North India on a tour of Sacred Places, a Pilgrimage of sorts. I’ve always wanted to expose myself to what India promised to open in anyone who followed the call to travel there. I have readied myself for the fact that in certain areas the air would be hard to breath, the water undrinkable and the food a little dicey for my stomach. The people, the culture and the mass of humanity that is India will test my limits.
Not expected for anyone travelling the world right now or just staying put, is the Corona Virus. I refuse to live my life in fear so I am setting out on what is starting to feel a bit like an Indiana Jones adventure complete with “Nago sadhus” (snake-worshipping ascetics) who live in mud huts dug out in the banks of a river.
The bizarre part comes on the next line of the itinerary :
“Overnight at the Double Tree Hilton”
Snake charmers……to the Hilton I expect I will learn much more than just the history of sacred sights on this journey.
There are 23 of us signed up, a tour leader named Andrew Harvey who is a Scholar, author and a Mystic born in India and spent large swaths of his life there.
So, for the next two weeks when time allows I will be sending little missives, reflections on what I am seeing, feeling and hopefully some words will start to follow me and show up in poetry.
Namaste my friends. Next stop Dehli.