My job took me to India, circa 1997
And even though I got sick, dehydrated, and had to sleep one night on the bathroom floor suffering from shivers, it’s up there with Israel and Spain. It has to be. Eating was a tad difficult for me, as I have never liked spicy food. Still, the few meals that were not too spicy were wonderful, the mocktails super yum, and the people … the people were like nothing else I have ever experienced ANYWHERE. It offered me one of the best lessons I have learned in life. And I knew it the second I heard the words from the driver-turned-guide (this happened to me a few times through my travels, presume it’s common that a driver turns into a guide). I remember the heat, barely bearable at night, dry and encompassing, yet even the warm breeze (I love breezes) carried hope. The same hope of the friendly faces under a street light — two young men astride on their bicycles sharing their candid smiles, asking questions of me, just because I come from a different, almost as if from another, world, like the driver was, as he had done earlier in the week.
candid can·did | ˈkan-dəd 1a: marked by honest sincere expression
The beauty of India enveloped me
- Yes, it is poor, and there are parts of it I did not experience. But poverty is everywhere, poverty is in riches too, in the heart and mind, which is why I was profoundly and forever awakened to the fact, as I felt as poor as they did and could not comprehend, or accept? the buoyancy in their speech and smiles and curiosity.
- I was captivated the moment I stepped outside onto the airport sidewalk — wee hours of the morning and jet-lagged to the max.
- Perhaps because I was there during a dry season, and not during the monsoon season
- But it still touches me when I let the memory return. It seems so impossible that I was there and experienced all I did.
- Oooh, the freedom …
The air-conditioned van chugged on, and I felt like a fish in a bowl. I wanted to swim or run or both. A naked boy ran behind a school bus, speeding away from a woman; children gathered on the ground around an old man in a white robe; women dragged pails from one shack to another, all of us waking up to our circumstances, sipping the humidity of life. It is there, always, for all. Some people live while others exist, sometimes without either of them knowing it.Like A Blue Thread