Pockets full of leftover Chinese yuan, Hong Kong dollars, Indian rupees and now Nepalese rupees. My time in India is sadly complete, and although it was a magical world of incense, random farm animals strolling the streets, bare feet, sanskrit classes, shalas, and more garlic naan then even one partially Italian girl should consume, I’m ready to get these walking shoes back on.
It wouldn’t be fair to leave without making one last feeble attempt to share why I believe India draws so many people back time and time again. It is a place so lacking in conventional wealth, yet it offers the most privileged of us (yes, I’m admitting to being ‘slightly’ high-maintenance) more richness in beauty of soul than anyone could possibly ask for. The “lack of wealth” financially speaking, is part of what makes the people, the food, the dirt streets, the endless mountains of trash, and the coconut stands that much more endearing. People are happy (mostly speaking), without all the BS that the modern world often brings. I left of course in the dead of night, exactly the same as I arrived one month prior. As I said my final goodbyes, I tried to find the words for why I felt so small, so insignificant to this place I called home if only for a short period of time. It’s because India will go on, it always does, with or without you. Now I know you can often get this feeling in any new place when traveling, but India just feels different. It doesn’t need you, it goes on with or without electricity, it goes on with or without paved roads, refrigerators, the FDA, traffic lights, utensils, tortilla chips (sadly), SHOES! It goes on with or without anything that would make a city at home paralyzed without its modern conveniences. India just keeps on keeping on. Maybe that’s why so many people continue to return, because its a place of freedom, freedom from the conventional, freedom from our assumed definition of wealth, freedom from “needing” anything but shelter, food, and water (of which even the first isn’t necessary as there were plenty of people sleeping on streets). It takes you back to the raw basics of why, what, who do I need in my life?
Now, before I start floating away on a cloud of wishful hippy thoughts, let me say I wouldn’t trade anything for the refreshingly scalding hot shower I just enjoyed in a Hong Kong high rise condo, thanks Ariel! I changed my flight to return to HK for 24 hours. For some people, a refresh button takes the form of a sandy beach, for me, a Chicago city girl, that refresh button looks exactly like an evening staring out from a balcony onto a clear night city skyline. (I’m envisioning a 1920’s movie here) So here I am, recently refreshed about to get back on a plane to the cold showers, often electricity lacking, wild country of Nepal. You can bet the last thing I’ll do before I go is enjoy a Caramel Macchiato from my favorite conventional corporate chain. But in India’s honor, I’ll try to enjoy it with a little more freedom from my “need” to gulp it down.
Pictures Below: Indian woman and children from Srirangapatna, Simone and I sippin’ warm 7-ups, dry cleaning anyone??, Mysore Dasara Festival floats, and Acro yoga 🙂
Bouncing on a sketchy rickety squealing bus butted up to the side of a menacing cliff out my window. Arrived in Nepal in the dead of night (noticing a theme here ;), bought a visa on the spot, and made my way to a cheap hotel in the heart of Kathmandu. Yesterday I spent a full day getting lost in Buddhist and Hindu temples as cheeky little monkeys tried to steal my camera and pull my hair. I wandered the crowded streets full of Dhaka Topis (the traditional Nepalese hat that men wear), Tibetan trinkets, momos (like a dumpling), crisp mountain air, and a stretch of Himalayas in the distance, wondering how I made it through the first 30 years of my life without seeing this breathtaking beauty. Now I’m heading to Pokhara for 3 days. It’s a small town near the Annapurna Mountain range perfectly nestled next to a picturesque canoe scattered lake. Did I mention it’s an 9 hour bus ride (probably would be about 3 anywhere else) in these conditions from Kathmandu! I feel like I’ve finally arrived in the “legit” traveler category.
Walking shoes on. Cold shower complete. White capped Himalayas in the background. Caramel macchiatos and Hong Kong penthouses a distant memory.
More to come…