Sunday, March 16, 2008

Incredible India

It is said that whatever you say about India, the exact opposite is
also true. My last experience there, while filled with some of the
most compassionate and human exchanges I have ever encountered, was
also somewhat mired by the tragic death of the ship librarian. I
haven't always equated my thoughts of India with her passing, but it
has admittedly always been a piece of it. Really, how could it not be?

Ten years later, I would be lying if I didn't say that I had a small
amount of anxiety leading up to this section of the trip, but I am
quite thankful to have gone back there. It is a place I knew that I
would revisit, and I think it was only appropriate to give it an ample
amount of time and distance. Thankfully, I'm at a place in my life
where I can handle potency without letting it take over, both in the
literal and spiritual sense. Seeing and living this difference has
been a great internal barometer of realizing how much I have grown,
for India is intense in a way that can't be described by only one
medium. Some books and movies have come close, but one must experience
it on every sensory level to come even close. The smell, which I would
call a salmagundi of sweat, spice, and urine, coupled with the
sensation of being visually raped and mystically stimulated at the
exact same time are all part of the wild Indian ride which require one
to be uber present.

The Indian government is now selling "incredible india" as a tourist
destination. If I were working for the Indian tourism department, I
would add "ironic" to the list of alliterated adjectives. Doncha
think? When I was working at Oxygen in my early twenties, I remember
the shock of entering Alanis Morrisette's Malibu beach house, only to
find more white plushy items than in a Pampers commercial and a
melange of Indian bling. I never understood how the woman who wrote
"Jagged Little Pill" lived like an edgeless Martha Stewart in
actuality, but now that I look back, I'd like to think that her visit
to India inspired her to write an entire song about the idea of irony.
Whether you float on the surface or dig deep, there really is no where
else like it, for where else can you be spit on and blessed at the
same time, and experience a culture where the men are comfortable
holding hands with each other in public yet push and shove women on
the street as if they are hogs. I would say cattle, but lord knows
they are treated in their own special way.

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