Due to circumstances and bad timing, I’ve had to cut my time short in India. I’m a bundle of emotions. And, as I sit here in my hotel room on my last night, listening to the loud honks and revving engines outside my window, I can’t help but think how much I’m going to miss the chaos that is India. It’s been one of the most rewarding and incredible places I’ve ever visited, but also the most challenging. And I’m sad to say goodbye.
I’m really bummed to be honest. I wish I could have a few more days before everything becomes a distant memory that I can only return to through photographs. I’m sure I’ll be back, I just don’t know when, and that makes my heart heavy. All I know is I’m forever grateful for my experiences and so proud of myself for building up the courage to travel to a country completely different from my own.
Looking back at how I was feeling my first week here, I realized not only how much I’ve grown, but also how my feelings from the first few days have remained with me. India is a hard place to visit. The language barrier, the transportation, the hygiene, and the reality of being a female in a place that can sometimes be unsafe for a woman, are just a few things that will leave you feeling uneasy. It’s a country that will test your patience and make you look outside yourself, to question everything you’ve ever said and done that seemed irrational (even spoiled); it will make you look at the world and wonder why it can be so cruel, but also so beautiful. India really is, as my dad puts it, a country of “the plenty and the poor.” It’s a country that houses millions of shacks and homes built out of scrap metal among its booming and developing cities, where barefoot children and skinny men and women roam around, struggling to get by, as the occasional BMW and hundreds of people in suits pass them on the streets.
I’ve never felt so overly well-off until I came here–and at times it broke my heart. As I stared out of my taxi’s window while we drove through Agra, I couldn’t help telling myself that I don’t deserve half the things I have and wondering how these people could be happy when they have so little. How could these men and women be walking around with emaciated legs, mud-covered clothes, and smiles stretched across their faces? How could these children hop from one pile of dirt to the next, drenched in brown water, and laugh as their friends chased them? How do they do it? How do they find happiness when the world seems to be against them? But I realized that it’s not a matter of who deserves what or who’s more worthy, it’s all based on circumstance. And, most importantly, that happiness isn’t found through tangible things, it comes from accepting and understanding one’s circumstances, while trying to find joy through simplicity.
Of course poverty is an issue that needs to be resolved, not only in India, but everywhere. It’s one of the saddest realities knowing that there are millions of people starving and fighting to get through the day with a lack of resources needed to succeed and a lack of people willing to help. I’m not saying that those in poverty are happy or should be happy with the lives they’ve been dealt, but they’ve taught me how to love myself and the life I have and to use it as a way to give help to those that need it.
I’m also not saying that poverty is all you see in India, seeing it face to face has just been a big part of what’s humbled me. There’s so much more to India than its dirty roads, chaotic traffic, widespread slums, and hygiene (its dirtiness was definitely not as bad as I’d anticipated). It’s a country filled with a colorful culture and beautiful people that want nothing more than to welcome their visitors and see them pleased. Like I said in a previous post, “guest is God” here in India, and, boy, do you get treated like one. It’s also a country of diversity, not just culturally, but linguistically, religiously, and historically. A woman told me that “every 1000 km everything changes,” like the clothes, the dialect, the food, the environment, and the people. The variety and chaos can leave you feeling uneasy, but, after being here for a month, I’ve learned not to adhere to predictability and, instead, to accept disorder–life can actually be fun that way, too.
I can’t believe my days here have come to an end. It went by faster than I thought. It seems like I was just walking out of the Bangalore airport, feeling jet-lagged and excited. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I did, but I really didn’t have a clue. Where has the time gone? I don’t know if I should smile or cry. Right now, I just want to curl in bed and wish I knew when I’ll be here again. But I guess I’ll have to accept not knowing.
Until next time, India. I’ll see you soon.