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Namaste: Why I love India

Street Scene India
Street Scene India

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.

street food in India
street food in India
sewing on the street
sewing on the street
On the street in India

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.

street scene in India
street scene in India
India--a spiritual place
India–a spiritual place

It is visually stimulating and gorgeous. The impressions are deep and lasting—ranging from the slums of Mumbai to the opulent palaces of Rajasthan.

Palace Hotel in Rajasthan
Palace Hotel in Rajasthan
Mosaic at City Palace in Uidiapur
Mosaic at City Palace in Uidiapur

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.

City scene in India
City scene in India

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.

Large monument in Delhi
Large monument in Delhi
A Jain Temple in Gujarat
A Jain Temple in Gujarat

Photo taken out the window of our touring bus.

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.

Holi Festival
Holi Festival

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.

Transport vehicle in India

Woman hoping to sell me jewelry.

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.

Mural in Udiapur
Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

6 Comments
  1. posted by
    Ann M Stevenson
    Nov 6, 2017 Reply

    Susan, The last sentence says it all about the love and passion for the experiences of being a traveler, a much different experience than being a tourist. Your photos over the years continue to affirm your love of people and places and the capacity to embrace differences, contradictions, and those things and traits which make us different and also the same. Namaste.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Nov 6, 2017 Reply

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comment. Much appreciated.

  2. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Nov 7, 2017 Reply

    Your photos are stunning. A place ‘of places’ as ancient as India is steeped in a richness of cultural diversity and historical development that we can hardly imagine yet you’ve captured its essence through your personal experiences and insights.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Nov 7, 2017 Reply

      Thank you, Peggy, So nice of you to comment on my blog. I’m glad you enjoyed this.

  3. posted by
    Marie Preston
    Nov 7, 2017 Reply

    Exquisite photos with thoughtful commentary!
    The adage, be curious not fearful, certainly applies to you, and look how it opens worlds of compassion and understanding for people, places and things different from ourselves.
    Inspiring!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Nov 7, 2017 Reply

      Marie, Thank you so much for your nice comment. Fortunately I go on these trips with really great tour companies. My last experience was with the Jim Cline Photo Tours. They took exquisite care of us while providing rich opportunities for making photographs.

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