The diversity of lifestyle, coupled with its complex religion and classes held an allure that pushed me passed my comfort zone and into the cultural immersion of India.
I venture into lands unknown in order to live a life colored with unique experiences.
Do you ever wonder what it is about India that draws countless people to depict it as the place to visit for spiritual awakening? It’s hard to pinpoint precisely what it is for me. If I was to take an uneducated guess, I would lean towards expressing that it holds a certain charm that draws me into believing the impossible is indeed possible.
There is a sense of chaotic order to the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. Cows roam freely eating the garbage while creating rack and ruin in the shops as they see fit to randomly enter. I was told by one lady that it was considered good luck to have a cow enter her market stall, whereas the stall owner opposite her tried to discreetly usher the cows away. She had decided the mess and loss of product they caused far outweighed the luck she was receiving.
In the urban landscape, I found the architecture was equal parts surprising and downright scary. I had received an offer to visit a family who lived in this five story tall super narrow leaning tower of Piza building. To provide you with some context, I lived in a five bedroom two bathroom old country farm house on seventeen acres on my own. When I entered this abode, I was amazed with the amount of people who lived in the ultra small confines of this narrow concrete structure. The grandparents, a husband and wife, two children under the age of six with one on the way and an unmarried sister, all lived there. It was humbling to know that I occupied a house that was filled with ‘things’, and here they were a family of seven plus another child en route, making life work in space no greater in size than an average westerner’s lounge room.
‘The wonderment of perspective’
One of the things that I truly admire about the people of India is their commitment to the use of bold vibrant colors. When I attended the much anticipated Carnival festival in Goa, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In essence, it is a well orchestrated display of floats, coupled with singular people hovering about in random costumes. I saw an Indian Charlie Chaplin walking toward me while a man in a ballerina suit complete with an un-manicured hairy chest fluttered on by. It was eclectic madness with no apparent flow of commonality in theme, and yet it all somehow works. The celebration lasted for three nights and four days and was far tamer than it sounds. Either that or I was hanging in the wrong circles. Mostly, what I witnessed was people in uplifted spirits celebrating with their family and friends by sharing a meal, singing and dancing.
“I travel to find pieces of me within each experience.” ― Truth Devour
During my travels, I heard about a growing trend in what is known as laughing yoga (Hasyayoga). I was curious about it and decided to track down a club to join them in an hour of chuckles. In theory, the practice of prolonged voluntary laughter is based on the belief that it provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as genuine laughter. Attending a session proved to be one of my favorite travel experiences. Picture this, I was the only foreigner attending that day so most of the participants used me as an unconscious focal point. Here I am surrounded by a group of strangers who were staring at me while smiling. I looked at their faces looking at me and couldn’t help but begin to laugh. Much to their delight my natural expression of laughter is so, let’s call it ‘unique,’ that when they heard my rambunctious bellow, they all quickly transitioned from forced laughter into hysterical laughter. I mean we lost the plot laughing at the sound of me laughing. The exchange of energy was amazing. Our streams of tears were the signature expression of joy. Honestly, I could feel it rejuvenating my mind, heart and soul.
When I stumbled upon the washing booths, I was fascinated by what I saw. Firstly, there wasn’t a female in sight. All the booths are run by men. They scrubbed the clothes, dipped them in the water and then proceeded to vigourously whack them numerous times on the concrete wall in front of them. They repeated this process over and over, occasionally checking the item. I’ve never seen white clothes come up so clean before. It was visually mesmerizing to watch them in action. They relentlessly labored over each article of clothing in the same way for the entire day.
Initially, I intended on spending a little over two weeks traveling about to get a taste of what India had to offer. This quickly became extended to six weeks, then eight. I reluctantly returned to Australia thereafter to tend to some existing commitments. When I boarded the plane to leave I recognized that my first trip to India would not be my last. I have graced her soils a few times since and had even updated my last will and testament to hold the request to have my body shipped to Varanasi so it may be burnt to ashes at the foot of the Ganges and released unto its waters.
What can I say, there’s just something about India. It is an enchanted place filled with endless examples of the impossible being possible.
Blessings – Truth Devour