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Published: July 13th 2007
Apparently, the entire country of India exists in a reality completely different than our own. There are no certainties or guarantees. There are no schedules or guidelines. India really is the twilight zone. But not necessarily in a bad way.
For instance, in India honking the horn is a language and art in and of itself, with infinite meanings and subtleties. And this language is all important due to the complete void of any and all traffic laws. In a world where lanes are invisible and traffic lights are suggestions, a single honk of the horn could mean any and/or all of the following: "Hello Rajesh-I will come to visit you soon." or "You just cut me off you bastard-may Vishnu curse your family!" or "I'm about to pass you doing 50 kmph around a blind corner-don't move!" or "Why are you stopping at that red light-we could have made it?" or the crowd favorite "Don't try to cross the road with your goat and entire extended family during rush hour!"
Also in India, spider size DOES matter. Apparently, certain sizes of spider require a call to the police. More on this at a later date.
In India, a rickshaw ride is a life or death matter. It's like being a passenger in the video game MarioKart, without the restart button. Rickshaw drivers are very friendly people. They will not hesitate to challenge oncoming traffic, cut straight across four lanes, and fly down tiny alleyways just to show you where they live. They will also not hesitate to turn their head 180 degrees to have a conversation with you while performing the above. The key is to breathe, not ask questions, and become one with life and death.
In India, the gesture of the head for "yes" (it's not really yes, we'll explain that later) is an amorphous combination of "yes and no". It's more of a head bobble that looks more like and means closer to "maybe, if circumstances allow" or "right now yes, but could change to no at any second". This gesture is extremely important because it seems to represent the Indian worldview and spirituality. Indians seem to live more in the present moment than other cultures. Here they savor the good moments now because something terrible could be lurking around the bend. Here they can have power and roads
one minute and nothing the next. They take nothing for granted, not even breathing. People make a living teaching westerners how to breath properly in ashrams like the one we visited.
People have told us that we would either love OR hate India. But as far as we are concerned, that's incorrect. We both love AND hate India at the same time.
One of the ideas that they talked about in the ashram was that there is no good or bad. There just is. At the most basic level, everything is the same. Unified. And this makes perfect sense when you look at India. India is not good or bad. India just is. And if one is able to open themselves up to this reality and duality, then they really can start to love India.
We are still knee-deep in this process and are hopeful that we can make it through, because we really would like to love India.
Om Namo Narayanaya
(Chant for World Peace)
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