April, 2014

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6 India Mosts…..one month later.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The most surreal was the arrival.  Usually there’s a habitual willing of the plane to land smoothly, despite the smooth landing not depending much on the thoughts emanating from my window seat, but this time silence.  My thoughts weren’t with the landing but the taking in that everything visually is unfamiliar and new.  The entire decent was over ground more and more urban, yet not at all familiar.  London was, even though I hadn’t been there.  The I’m-hereness would last me days.  I’m in India-dinner.  I’m in India-foray from the hotel.  I’m in India-checks of the passport.

The most learning was the taking it as it comes.  And the seeing that I can.  “Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.” A certain movie had it right, The light, colors, the smiles–the smells–can’t help but teach you something here.  I didn’t lose my cool when being sold something.  I laughed often.  I tried to offer my manners and gratitude and even my excitement.  Opting sometimes for the spiciest, other times for the more familiar omelet.  Time for photos.  Time to enjoy.   Time for incessant traffic noise.  Time for quiet.  Asking questions and saying yes, even to some pottery wheel time.

The most striking was the Taj Mahal.  The long shadows of the sunrise.  The arrivals.  The stray dogs.  The other visitors.  The group.  Exploring.  I knew as I was there that I might never be back.  Getting to touch it.  Shoe covers on.  Offering to take another family’s photos while they awkwardly took turns being in it.  Finding fun angles and frames for unique pictures.  Hearing the fountains.  Seeing the monkeys.  Considering just how much of a feat the whole endeavor was.

The most indescribable were the colours.  Fabrics and clay buildings and water and skies.  The Sikh Temple’s reds and oranges.  The mosque’s clay.  Trucks painted.  Flowers and green grass in the midst of the most arid.  Shining mirrors and glass and metalic blues for Shiva.   Buildings new and old.  Bollywood theatres and curb side barbershop chairs.

The most comforting were the animals actually: from lazy dogs in the sun to the cows on the streets.  And pick up cricket games.  And smiles.  And thank yous.  Available water.  Morning coffee, although instant, with sugar somehow sweeter and more syrup tasting than ours.

The most coziest was in Sawarda.  Dinner behind us, three steps of concrete up, under the stars, and finally no horns honking. Over cold Kingfishers (or gin and tonics made with tiny little narrow cans of tonic) we told stories, asked questions, and tested out a few answers on each other to see how the answers sounded.  With live drums and singing at first, and then our laughter afterwards, we heard how life in Australia isn’t so different from life in Hong Kong or the U.K. or in Calgary.  I remember listening and thinking about all the twists of fate that brought all our very separate lives to the calm evening, in India.  No rush to get to bed we savoured our last full evening and night.  We could have been anywhere, but we were here.  And the food and the tiredness and the heading home and the arriving and the new and the familiar all blended into a moonlit visit.