Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Through My Eyes, Ears, Nose and Heart

I stated in an earlier post that I was suffering from sensory overload. That didn't change throughout my entire visit. I guess it could also be called culture shock. I am the first to admit that I have lived much of my life in a bubble - right, wrong or otherwise, that is how it has been. I have lived in one state for my entire life. I was never encouraged to be a risk-taker or to take adventures so this trip to India was an incredible eye-opener. This blog will not do justice to the sights, sounds, smells and emotions that we experienced while in India. My life has been changed forever ~ I have no doubt about that, even if I can't explain how at this exact moment.

Driving down the streets and looking out the window of the auto, I would see bright and vibrant colors hustling, bustling everywhere. I was told that American clothing is boring and drab. I agreed to disagree. Looking out the same window five minutes later, I would be looking into the sad brown eyes of a beggar with his misshapen hand held out to me. I saw only shades of dull gray and brown. I try to focus on the bright colors of before, but can not see them through my tears.

Sleep did not come easily due to the buzzing of the mosquitoes and the noises of the day which kept blasting in my head. The constant horn honking, fighter jets flying over repeatedly, millions of voices speaking in a language I do not understand, scooters racing , babies crying, sirens...constant noise. I cover my ears.

The smell of diesel, human waste, body odor, animal smells all blend together at times and my nose would be offended. But then I would smell beautiful flowers, spices blending together in different foods, or the scent of incense and I would inhale deeply.

But what was affected most deeply was my heart. I witnessed a level of poverty which I had only read about or seen on television ~ and seeing it firsthand has changed me forever. Guilt, sadness, anger, confusion...I have a feeling that these emotions will not disappear for a long time. I want to gather up all of the children who are begging for rupees and help them see the importance of education. I am helpless. Surprise, shock and disappointment to see that chauvinism still exists in our world. Curiousity and amazement took over as I listened and learned about arranged marriages. I am so far from home. This whole experience feels so surreal. My comfort level is in the red zone.

I attended my daughter's wedding and felt happiness, joy, pride. I met wonderful people who were as curious about me as I was about them. Communication was often difficult but somehow a smile is able to break down all barriers. I smiled, they smiled and for that moment my heart felt whole again.

Before the rush hour traffic begins...

How many people can squeeze on a city bus?

Cows munching on their daily lunch of trash.


Taking a bath on the city sidewalk

Our neighbors

This little girl was asking for money after washing the windshield.

I will never forget her.

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