She is delightfully chaotic; a beautiful mess. Loving her is a splendid adventure. - Steve Maraboli
facebook's (weird but admittedly sometimes nice) "timeline flashback" function (or whatever it's called) keeps reminding me that this time ten years ago, i was in india for the first time. what a long, wild, romantic, sometimes heartbreaking ride it has been with this mysterious, beautiful first love of mine.
Soulmates aren’t the ones who make you happiest, no. They’re instead the ones who make you feel the most. Burning edges and scars and stars. Old pains and pangs, captivation and beauty. Strain and shadows and worry and yearning. Sweetness and madness and dreamlike surrender. They hurl you into the abyss. They taste like hope. - Victoria Erickson
ten years ago and every day since, india showed me that in whatever capacity, i know that i both want and need to spend my life working on behalf of others. india taught me to love selflessly, to find beauty even in the most despairing of places, and to value relationships over most anything else. india introduced me to real, sacrificial hospitality, the importance of letting go of one's plans and holding on tight for a wild ride.
i have an affinity for jalebis, momos, garam chai and chili peppers, and would prefer to buy my food from a dhaba or a walla on a train platform than a fancy, sit-down restaurant. last week, i definitely tried to put a rupee into my building's washing machine. i regularly listen to the bollywood channel on youtube and own more hindi movies than english language ones. i once spent several months learning to decipher devanagari and can, with much pride, still read bus signs. a photograph or familiar smell can still immediately transport me to the bustling streets of hyderabad, bangalore or bombay. i dream of criss-crossing the subcontinent by train or rickshaw. home is here in denver, but also in a tiny seaside village of andhra pradesh, at the one address i have memorized in all of the country, and on the shores of the ganga in the garhwal mountains. ringing bells, honking horns, the smell of diesel or incense or bodies conjures up mental images of india before anywhere else in the world. i occasionally drive like a maniac, inspired by rickshaw wallas or two-wheeler drivers who find the sidewalk an acceptable traffic lane (i've never driven on the sidewalk. i did once park my car with a tire on it, though, and have definitely cheered people in traffic jams who were following too closely to an emergency vehicle.)
after my first introduction to india, i worried that this summer love would flicker and die out, and that the stories of all i heard would die with it. i desperately longed to go back, to dive headfirst into the chaos and find a place in it. i cooked indian food, watched bollywood movies, painted my hands with henna- anything i could do to feel closer than half a world away. my love for india is now much more familiar, and i know just as it has endured the past ten years, it will endure the next ten, and the ten after that. i know that though things and people and circumstances change, stepping off an airplane in any of india's cities, being hit with a wave of humidity scented with jasmine, brylcreem, nag champa and more than a billion humans will feel simultaneously wildly adventurous and also comfortingly familiar. india, i love you.