OYOP: No Hurry, No Worry, Chicken Curry. India Part II.
We have been in India now for about two and a half weeks. We have spent most of the time so far in the state of Rajasthan, known for being rich in its cultural traditions. It boasts ancient forts and city palaces that deserve entire afternoons of exploration. It has a lovely craftsman culture of items like colorful traditionally woven rugs and marble statues of animals and gods. It keeps alive its traditions of dancing, puppeteering, and the arts. There is certainly no shortage of sights and bazaars, architecture, colors, and sounds in the state of Rajasthan.
I have started to come to terms with the very little understanding I will gain in this short time of the complexities of life in the state of Rajasthan, much less of the entire country of India. Although I certainly try. With each few minutes or even hours that we are able to talk with locals on the long train rides or in an auto rickshaw or at a guesthouse, we try to gain little insights into the life and customs here in India. I even skim the daily Times of India and read a historical fiction novel that I picked up at a local bookshop called “Inside the Haveli” by an female Indian writer who wrote about a woman who had to leave her modern life in Bombay for the strict, traditional life in a haveli in the Rajasthan city of Udaipur after an arranged marriage into a family there. It’s all very fascinating and complicated. I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like growing up as a woman in India. I can’t help but be curious about the intimate details of the lives of all of the hundreds, even thousands, of people that I’ve passed on the streets, because I know their customs and traditions are so much different than my own.
In these last couple of weeks in India, we have had some truly magical experiences. We rode camels into the desert, where we spent the night underneath the stars after an evening with desert villagers who played drums and sang village songs by the fire and answered our endless questions about village and desert life.
We spent a night sleeping in a sleeper cabin on a train as we slowly chugged along and watched as villages, livestock, and the Indian countryside passed us by. We visited some of the most impressive buildings in the world: forts, royal palaces, and best of all, the aweinspiring Taj Mahal.
But most of all, I feel like the real experience of India is in the streets: the smell of hot milk chai boiled in pots on the roadside, the feel of swerving in and out of people, cars, and animals in the streets, the sights while wandering past ancient architecture or marveling at the colorful tradition dress of turbans and saris still worn today, the sound of the call to prayer five times a day, and the attempt of your mind to keep up with everything you see, hear, smell, and feel, physically and emotionally, along the way. A few moments on the streets here is worth hours of exploring elsewhere. There is just so much to soak in, so much chaos and so much beauty. So much… Life.