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Published: March 3rd 2008
So, here is a little secret for those spiritual seekers
out there about “Finding Yourself” in India😊
For anyone who has traveled in India, most all would agree the country is a vivid place, full of extremes. The country is huge, with a population of 1.1 billion people, just second to China. One moment you can be shaking your head thinking how can people live like this, as experiencing the chaotic system that somehow manages the constant flow of traffic can be mind-boggling, if not ear deafening. Watching vehicles of all sizes, pedestrians, and animals (the abundant stray dog and wandering sacred cow) can be mesmerizing, until the adrenalin rush of personally experiencing crossing your first few streets sets in. The trash that is seen in most corners of life can make one question why there is so little garbage service, until one looks into the eyes of those experiencing the extreme poverty that is ever present, despite India’s dynamic economical growth and urban development. It may take a little time to stop trying to compare India to the life back home, it is India with its uniqueness, and beauty layered upon what is not quickly understood.
Just when culture shock may be setting in and you start to wonder why you chose to visit this sometimes raw country where dodging cow and dog droppings are just part of the experience, your senses are greeted by the abundant colors of the wandering sadhus, the smells of incense and food stands, a nice cup of chai, beautiful cut flowers, fruit of all sorts, and the graceful movements of the women in their shimmering saris. All this can only lead the heart into a place of awe and appreciation. The meeting of eyes, a smile that appears in slow motion in the midst of a busy street scene, the greeting or helpfulness from a stranger, and a moment of shared humor that crosses any language barrier can have you quickly forget you are just another foreigner in a mysterious land. In these simple moments, the power of the human connection crosses the seas of any preconceived differences.
These are the unexpected signs that help you know you are indeed in the right place, and serve as the invitation to journey into the traveling experience and the culture just a little more. I gave it a try when trying to figure out what I should wear “to blend in.” Just a little note on this, there is little blending in when you are a solo female traveler, especially one from a Western Country (but that’s another story). Well, trying on a sari can be quite the experience, as somehow the six meters of cloth is pleated and tucked to make a beautiful dress, without safety pins or ties. Though, I decided after my humbling experience of trying to put one of these miracle acts of clothing on, that I would stick with the traditional salwar kameez, otherwise known as a pant suit.
So, I have been asked several times, “Why India?” As a middle-class American woman in her forties, and having a professional career in social work, there are certainly choices available to me as to where I can travel. Yet, I have joined the 2.5 million tourists a year that choose India. I have little doubt that I will return again, despite also feeling that I will need a little time to recover from my most recent journey there. It is not easy traveling, nor is it as clean, orderly and predictable as other countries. Yet, there continues to be the draw that has brought me into the arms of Mother India three times. While it is a spiritual destination for some, and a historical monument quest for others, one thing I have learned for sure is that there is no hiding from yourself in India. Every emotion, sensation, smell, and thought is crisply experienced, as well as the realization that it is all my experience. There can be no blaming the rickshaw driver for how I feel about the bumpy road and traffic pollution, or how I feel when the room I was promised is no longer available. There is a feeling in India of being keenly alive, and knowing immediately how I feel and experiencing who I am
. Thus, there lies the secret of finding yourself in India—You can’t help but to “find yourself”, as you are right there present with the experience of India and India is right there present with you.
Namaste’ and Happy Travels!
Also please visit my website @ www.animaldreamers.org
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