We are a little over half-way through our India journey through the golden triangle. We have seen Delhi, Agra, and now Jaipur. All three cities are very different, each having its own approach to daily life. In Delhi, there is more noise, more chaos, and more contrast from street to street. Agra is full of beggars and hard core entrepreneurs. This shouldn’t sound as a discouragement to visit India; it’s only a peak into actual life. Sometimes we are so sheltered in our “reality” that when the time comes for us to experience it, we forget how real and uncomfortable it truly is. Overall I think that Agra is a city that is aggressive and majestic in one, kind of like the spice of a cinnamon candy. Jaipur is very calm. I haven’t experienced anything that is offsetting here. The hockers of trinkets aren’t everywhere, beggars aren’t so upfront. The mountains that surround us and it’s fragrant and fruity trees remind me of a tight hug from someone trusting.
I am going to diagnose myself with claustrophobia and recommend I step out of the charred smell of my room. I am naturally a homebody, but I can’t handle it here so a group of us decided to venture outside of the hotel and visit a mall. We initially started walking, but soon the sun beamed high from above and the sweat began to fill out shirts. We hopped into an auto-rickshaw and headed about 4 blocks down and around to crystal mall. Because of the death of India’s former vice president, many of the shops were closed. Bangles filled windows and custom textile shops intrigued my eyes. The saris that were in some of the stores were so colorful like a spring day. Imagine all sorts of flowers, bees, birds, and clear skies whirling in the wind. That feeling is the feeling I get when I see a sari or any type of fabric. Steven found a pretty trendy pair of shoes and I found two really nice kurtas. Although I would only spend this much on a shirt for a special occasion, everything from this adventure pans out. I really want to get a custom made outfit like some of the other girls. There aren’t many voluptuous ladies here so it is hard finding something that fits well. I can’t wait to really go shopping for my family and friends, I have already gotten a few ideas on what they may like and appreciate.
I am probably one of the few that actually don’t mind and even enjoy the heat. It feels nice on my skin, the feeling of a cool pellet of something colder than 110 degrees. The sweat here doesn’t build up like it does in the states, it’s like you don’t feel it coming until it’s already there. Everywhere you go the women are covered usually from head to toe and I find that really commendable. To us, a woman needs to show off her body to project independence and sexuality, here it’s all in their hand motions and their mannerism. Many of the women hide their beauty behind long gloves, loose and long skirts, and complete wrapping their faces in soft and airy cotton. The men also wear pants versus shorts. Many of the older men wear a long piece of cloth that they wrap between their legs that then falls down like loose collates.
I am still immensely paranoid about talking to people and even looking anyone in the eye. Some of my fellow travelers have no problem divulging to people that we are from Tennessee or the U.S. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business that I am, where I am from or what I am doing in India. Mindless chatter often leads many down the road of mindless responses. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in a conversation with a local especially if you have been couped up with the same people 24 hours a day.
In a place with 30 students and over 1 billion citizens, I never expected to feel so alone. A deep longing sorry rests in my heart and no amount of interactions, which is in constant supply, can fill the void. I know what homesick feels like, but this is more like there is so much to do, what only a small time frame to get out there and do it. The confidence from familiarity has dissipated. I can’t even bring myself to unpack my luggage…I simply repack it every night as if that’s the remedy. Pressure often wells in my eyes only to be replaced by humility and gratitude for this opportunity that I cannot waste.
So I leave you all with a bit of insight once more…experience can only be measured in enjoyment, while enjoyment is always an experience worth repeating. And value your water and your ice cubes, and especially clean clothes. Although I haven’t been as close to a better or complete chakra line like some nor have I felt a sense of spirituality that is like a new awakening, I have learned to watch movies without a lick of English and discovered a patient more observant sense of me.