India I miss you and you overwhelming smells, delightful head waggling and Bollywood dance moves. Most of the rules directing law and order in Western civilization just don’t apply in India. Traffic lines are meaningless but cows have the right of way, there aren’t any utensils, and nothing happens on time… ever. Only in India could I be awoken in an outdoor train station by the moist lick of a wayward goat, then unable to sleep for fear of more goat licking… wander (and subsequently get lost) miles outside of town only to have a rifle pulled on me by an embarrassed army guard who’d been dozing at his post just long enough for me to creep past his checkpoint and sneak some photos (all before sunrise).
Sure it may be a bit daunting when it comes time to squat over a messy cutout hole in the floor of a rusty train as the tracks clatter by below, but embraced one realizes that such a scenario is just a great way to multitask your way through an amazing “thigh exercise”. Going to the bathroom has never been so exciting. Even buying stuff is an ordeal in and of itself. The haggling process is more an interpretive dance than a competition: prices hang in limbo while unresolved arms sway as smoke incense and the scent of Darjeeling tea wafts through the air. The choreography ends only when one partner promenades away or both acquiesce on a price for those crudely burned Bollywood DVDs with the side to side waggles of the head that I still don’t fully understand.
India is a country of extremes. It’s raw and constantly in your face, you can’t escape the noise, you’re never really sure what that smell is (probably for the best), and there is a huge gap between the wealthy and impoverished. One of the main reasons I went to India was to visit Child Haven homes across the country, where poor or destitute children are provided with the bare essentials. The stark contrast between their lives and the material extravagance of a others were overwhelmingly put in perspective. That said, even though these kids had nothing, they were some of the happiest kids I’ve ever met. Refreshingly aware and thankful for everything little thing they did have.