I often get asked why I want to go to India. I’ve been three times. I am already looking forward to the fourth visit marked in bold letters on my calendar in 2018.
Why would a woman like me who grew up in a small town, attended Midwestern Universities and settled in a traditionally conventional city in the middle of our country want to go to places with a cacophony of jarring sounds, mounds of trash and confusing contrasts?
India has the reputation of being over crowded, impoverished, beastly hot, polluted and difficult to understand. Good reasons exist for that image.
Even my daughter at one point asked me why I couldn’t be “normal” like her friends’ parents who have places in Naples or Orlando or Hilton Head where she could visit for Spring Break with her kids. Our friends have given up asking when we’re buying into one of the “Pelican Places” so many enjoy when the winter is cold and nasty here in Michigan.
Who knows, really? Nothing in my background. My most adventuresome trip as a kid was to Chicago where my brother and I dropped water balloons out the window of the Palmer House Hotel where we were staying. Well, actually he dropped them while I was assigned lookout job—make sure our parents didn’t catch us in the act.
But, the question is valid and I interpret it this way: Why go places where you see extensive poverty, the food can be very difficult, you are likely to get Bombay Belly, airports are really challenging and you come home more stimulated than when you left. It’s not relaxing.
Why I love India
India is a place you can keep discovering for a lifetime. Whether you thrive on the endless chaos or are searching for peace of mind, you can find it in India.
It is visually stimulating and gorgeous. The impressions are deep and lasting—ranging from the slums of Mumbai to the opulent palaces of Rajasthan.
India insists that I move out of my comfort zone. Traffic jams, crowded streets, incessant honking of horns, swerving motorbikes and rickshaws invade personal space and keep me on edge.
One blogger I read described it this way, “It’s impossible to make a blanket statement about India, because when you find one thing to be true, somewhere the opposite is true.”
The architecture is diverse and stunning. Forts. Palaces. Mosques. Temples. Monuments and ancient ruins. I am enthralled with the people who have stories etched in their faces.
Learning to relax and be at peace with things happening on “Indian Time” provides a new way of being for the organized and compulsively on time me.
There’s a spiritual undertone I don’t feel in the Western World. In India, religion and spirituality are completely intertwined with every day life. It isn’t just on Sundays. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Sikhism and of course Islam are all significant in India.
You might think about going to India to experience yoga or meditations like the Beatles or Steve Jobs. Haven’t done that but I have attended a couple of aarti’s (fire worship) ceremonies. Most memorable. During the Holi Festival the country becomes a rainbow, making our most exuberant celebration look like a funeral. THere’s really nothing quite like it.
Another frequent traveler writing about India, says it forces her to confront the variety of human existence. Me Too. There’s no escaping the poverty. It isn’t limited to ghettos or bad parts of town. Poverty is everywhere.
India is a country where cows, goats, camels, pigs ,horses and dogs all share the road with gloriously painted trucks, cars and colorfully attired humans. It’s a place to leave your comparisons to home….. at home.
In India, I am forced to consider my beliefs about what makes a meaningful life. I come home a different person than when I left.