~An old little piece that never made it to the big leagues… until now. Enjoy this blast from the past~
Picture a bustling New York City avenue. Got it? Now strip away humming neon signs. Quadruple the density of moving people. Replace the few homeless men with dozens who comfortably call street-huts home. Finally, add some rich textile colors, aromas of a hundred different spices, and throw in a few stray cows…
Welcome to India.
My first family trip to India was a shock to the system. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, it was clear this was unlike any international experience I’d had before. Everywhere you turn there’s another one room shop, another roadside food vendor, another dozen faces. “Crowded” takes on an entirely different level of meaning here. Pushing and shoving isn’t rude… it’s a necessity to get anywhere you need to go. Additionally, all the food is “eat at your own risk.” Fortunately for me, I can handle spicy food and competitively try anything my dad is brave enough to attempt. Weird brag, sorry. But be warned: Deli Belly is real my friends.
Lesson learned? Culinary experimentation in India comes with a price… but after a bit of pain you’ll be proud you paid.
What the country lacked in personal space and digestible food it made up for in color. Clothing was rich in bright yellows, and deep reds. Design stretched beyond fabric and dyed the arms and hands of beautiful women. It was everywhere. Buildings decked out in glorious patterns, temples crafted from glistening white marble… It’s honestly kind of impossible to explain the sensation of seeing such bursts of pigment around every corner.
The colored temples and grandiose monuments seen throughout India are true testaments to the beauty of the country. However, there exists a harsh contrast between such splendor and extreme poverty. Children wander the streets in masses looking for food of any kind. Disabled beggars crouch by your feet as you wait to hail rickshaw rides. Yet what I find most unsettling, above all else, is how accustomed everyone is to tuning out the pleas for help. How comfortable they are looking the other way. It’s just how they expect the world to be.
This strong class divide is obvious. It is something that has slowly started to improve over the past decade but is far from true advancement. Nevertheless, despite economic differences, the country has a unique harmony, a unity of sorts. Whether you’re rich or poor, everyone shares a deep seeded history filled with tradition that separates Indians from any other ethnicity on earth. Common beliefs of reincarnation across different castes lead many to believe every status level is intertwined… past the identities of the lives we are currently living. This connectivity is exemplified in strong family units, village alliances, and national pride felt pulsing through every province and person. It is what makes standing elbow to elbow with your neighbor not something to complain about, but something to be proud of.
Keep doing you, India.