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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I left my heart in India...


India...doesn't the name just sound mysterious and beautiful? For
those that have never been, and find it utterly uninteresting to
listen to someone lament about a trip, OR have been and hated it: Stop
Reading Now. You won't get what you're looking for here! Nothing more
to see!
For the rest of you who will at least humor a girl her *small*
obsession, go ahead: keep reading. Approximately 3 years and 2 months
ago I boarded a plane with 12 other female students and one male
professor to spend a month exploring India. India, it was really
never on my list of places I wanted to visit one day...in fact, until
Boyd Wilson's World Religions class it would probably have been in my
bottom ten. I just wasn't interested. For one thing, it seemed
so...old...And hot, and it was full of religions that weren't my own
and therefore made me uncomfortable. I'd also heard stories of kids
who left home to learn about Budhism and never came back. I was never
too keen on opening myself up to that possiblity, better to stay
ignorant. Ahhhh...sweet ignorant bliss.
But then, Sophomore year I enrolled in this World Religions class. It
was part of my major, and I was entirely apathetic. Until I got
there, and met the prof, and started reading. It was a shock to my
system that I might find this stuff not only interesting, but
compelling. If you're passionate about your faith, I decided, you
cannot just ignore those other religions. In my opinion it's pretty
irresponsible. If you don't know what really makes your faith
different from others, how effective are you going to be in spreading
the gospel really?
I would strongly encourage anyone who is serious about their faith to
pick up a book that explains, unbaisedly, the beliefs of another
faith. (or better yet, read their actual holy texts since any factual
book is going to be biased, who am I kidding?) After you've actually
read an "unbaised" book, go ahead and read one that is written by a
Christian, but you've kinda gotta get the facts first, you really
should learn the basics. Islam is a good place to start as it is
possibly the most intimidating to us Westerners. But if you want to
be entertained by good stories and a lot of hidden similarities
between the Christian faith and another faith- my favorite is
Hinduism. I find it to be an extremely beautiful and intriguing
religion.

**Side bar** It must be said that I truly enjoy these religions. It
does not mean I think they are true or that I would encourage anyone
to experiment with them. I have just reached a point that I can
admire them for what they are; for their culture, their stories, their
art and their beauty. It can get confusing to some because you'll
find a lot of Christian principles in Hinduism, Budhism, Jainism,
Islam, etc. But if you think about it, they are all just "moral" or
"good" principles, of course they exist in other religions! There is
just a vital part missing from these other religions- Jesus and
Salvation. **end side bar**

So I went to India and though there were times I hated and cursed the
whole coutry for how hot it was, and other times I cried for the
unfairness I witnessed, the majority of the time I spent in wide-eyed
disbelief. It cannot be explained - I can't do it. But here are some
pictures that can try:

Notice how COLORFUL everything is. If you were there when the picture
was taken, every single one of these images would bring with it both
sweltering heat and all-encompassing sensory overload. Smell is of
course the most memory-jarring sense in my reperitoire; I look at
these images and smell jasmine, tandoori, nag champra, gasoline,
asphalt, curry and ginger. I can feel how I felt but it is impossible
to explain. I can see begger children with kohl on their eyelids,
blessings on their foreheads, and dripping in bangles. Begger
children that look for all the world like miniature royalty but are
living on just pennies a day.

India is the most perfect oxymoron, obscenely rich coexisting within
feet of the obscenely poor. American progress side-by-side with the
most primitive ways of life imaginable. The most beautiful sights and
smells and experiences, paired with the most terrible. There are
places that feel like nirvana, and others that feel like the 7th
circle of hell. There is no justifying the ways people are treated
and animals are exaulted. Cows are sacred and walk the streets where
crowds part like the Red Sea while human beings dart across busy
streets (google Indian Traffic, do it) where cars would literally
rather hit a human than a cow for fear of the scum they could be
reincarnated into.

Now, 3 years and 2 months later, sitting in my clean house with all
the food I could need in the freezer and a car full of gas in the
driveway (rather than coke but that is another story), I can scarcely
believe that place exists. The entire country seems to be something
from a dream- there is just no way that raucus country could still be
out there, outside of my dreams. But put me in a store like World
Market where I'm surrounded with small reminders of India- with
lotions that could only be made in India for how authentic they smell,
and I'm thrown into a day dream resulting in three-page blogs where it
all bubbles to the surface. My breath catches and the part of my
heart that I left in India begins to ache for the loss of itself. How
a trip and a country can impact a person forever is humbling, it
amazes me still how quickly those memories come back and how
vibrantly. Now I'm left with my pictures and my memories. I hope
that each of you can one day have an experience with will change you.
Namaste

4 comments:

JP said...

Beautifully written Krista! You definitely have the gift of using words to paint a multi-dimensional..multi-sensory picture...

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