From each perspective, from one article to another, India can be seen or presented in many different ways. In fact, there are so many “Indias”, that each visitor is shaped by their own personal experience.
This Haiku entry is seen as an example. India that is at the same time both wonderous and loud … the very same sound. Does this mean that there is no silence? No, but it is rare … it needs to be savored and sometimes cultivated.
For anyone who steps there for the first time will surely be in « Ahh » with joy after such a long flight. And just as quickly followed by an «Ahhh!» of happiness in comfort from the heat … then to another «Ahhhhhh!» assured by the transportation (which is air conditioned) to the accommodation.
In a first release, there will be plenty of «Oh,» before the new, the unusual front, before the unexpected, before the commotion, before the overload of information and stimulation as well as constant contact, caused by the overcrowding.
Then the first real communication efforts, there will be those «Huh?» moments that the ear will instinctively focus on this Hindu-British (or British-Bengali) accent. Usually the universal decoder based brain adjusts to the third day …Tika[i] !
As for the « Oufs » there are essentially two kinds: there are «Oufs!» movements (even better, as the movement is reversed and you’re all mixed up, you dodged), and there are «Oufs!» the end of the day when the body finally settles to the horizontal and is exhausted or in overflow and certainly not indifferent.
So, one thing (or word) that does not exist in India is indifference. You only have to visit the sites that speak of Indian Syndrome to understand the scope[ii].
Finally, the «Beep, biiiiiiiiiiiip!» that sounds 24 hours a day. In fact, in India, as in many other countries, we look in the mirrors and honk to indicate our position or to indicate the intention to warn of something … but you honk!
And out of traffic grows politeness; to make you honk because it is written in black on the rear bumper of most vehicles «Horn Please!». So at the end of the day, finally lying on a soft bed … «Beep, biiiiiiiiiiiip!». Sweet dreams.
But beyond these onomatopoeia, there are constants.
One of the first constant to grasp is, you guessed it, the sound: «Chai pani! Chai, pani!», which is very persistent in trains. Decode them both quickly because they are your friends. Chai tea in fact, is a black tea with boiled and flavored milk. Pani … is water and water you should drink in India «Because» of the heat and humidity.
The second constant and another word that you will quickly grasp, often with a small hand (often several small hands) that point to you: «Rupee!»
The rupee is the currency and there is always someone who asks you for some. In fact, the solicitation is an extreme art in India and you have to deal with it fairly quickly … watch out to sensitive hearts and great souls.
That said, the constant that is most interesting is that India is generous.
It is generous of stories, rituals, beliefs, celebrations, cremations and creation. She is generous in colors, smells, flavors and all kinds of surprises for the senses. She is generous to a flora and a rich and diverse wildlife (sometimes in danger) and landscapes of inclusion in those lives just as broken as colorful and lush in places, desert or elsewhere. She is also generous with its places of worship, temples and meditation while being tolerant to all these manifestations of spirituality. She is friendly, helpful, interested and curious … you will not go unnoticed.
India is also generous to his people of faith as well as his masters. Sometimes these masters are a confusing youth … like the young Tibetan monk who came to bless the passage or the girl who invites you to not give him everything your cookies to be able to offer other children India, which knows how to listen, is just as fierce contrasts of subtle nuanced messages.
Ah yes, as in India «anything is possible» a constant … the last challenge!
India is a challenge in itself to our senses, our beliefs, our habits, our pace, our social sense, our preconceived, our ways of doing business, for our little quirks, our insecurities, our sense of the rich and the poor, to our faith, our sense of fairness and, in short, for our Western fear of death …
In this sense India is a cry from the heart for life.
Indifferent and back is equally impossible not wanting to return.
If India happens in your life, if this article passes before your eyes, if this is a call.
Will you dare answer?
Guy J. Giguère
Tour leader, Spiritours