Today is my last day in India and in an fitting fashion, the title of this post is almost the very same as the first when I arrived in this country.Both begin with a Namaste, which can be used for both hello and goodbye. I actually feel as I’m about to leave that I’m doing a bit of both, saying goodbye to the physical place whilst also having to say hello to so many new things I’m taking with me as I move on. So I feel like this post should be a summary somewhat, not particularly for anyone else, but for myself. To remind myself what I’ve learnt and what India has given me, just in case a year, or maybe three years from now, I begin to forget. Because, quite frankly, I shouldn’t be allowed to forget. It’s been too much of a learning curve for that, along with a truly amazing experience to boot.
More than anywhere else I’ve been in my life, I feel my time here has been a love / hate rollercoaster. India really is a land of extremes, contradictions and opposites. People here don’t do things by half. India is like the girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead, when she’s good, she’s really really good, but when she shows you her bad side, she’s horrid. I’ve laughed, cried and probably felt every single emotion under the sun these past few months. I’ve realised how easy it is to feel lonely despite being surrounded by hundreds of people and also felt blessed to be welcomed into strangers lives like an old friend. People laugh at the same things, cry at the same things and ultimately pursue the same ideals no matter where you are in the world.
In Jodhpur especially, I’ve worked with people who are amazingly good at what they do to the point where they are inspirational, and since moving elsewhere I’ve also met others since who make you question just how important basic comprehension is for a job. I’ve visited village huts, seen the face of poverty stare me directly in the face, partied in enormous palaces with royalty, relaxed on stunning beaches and been to music festivals based in ancient forts. I’ve ridden camels in the desert, played with elephants and seen so many mischievous monkeys I daren’t try and count. I’ve been in the freezing cold, the boiling hot and downright silly humid temperatures. I’ve dodged more tuktuks, cars, bicycles on the crazy indian roads than I ever want to again. I’ve learnt that any day can be a festival if you want it to be, seen the beautiful madness that is Diwali in India along with the colourful explosion of Ganesh Charturthi. I’ve worn sarees, salwar kameez’ and tried food combinations I could never have dreamt of. I’ve spent longer on trains and planes than I have in a long time. I’ve learnt the beginnings of a different language, how to read a new alphabet, the importance of the head waggle, how to contort into shapes I didn’t think were possible through yoga and how much difference a smile can make. I’ve seen a wonder of the world and made friends for life. As a woman here as well, I’ve left with a much larger sense of the need for gender equality in the world, including understanding how truly distant that ideal seems at the current moment in time for many. The way a lot of people have been made to live here has made me angry, frustrated at best and furious at worst – reducing me to tears at points, but its opened my eyes to why people can’t just be ignorant but need to take action. Why politics really matter, even if the issues aren’t on your doorstep. For every wonderful person I’ve met that has wanted to help me without gain I’ve also met corrupt authorities, greedy salespersons and downright nasty individuals who would leave you with nothing if you let them. If you look into the state of Indian politics, how corrupt and even criminal these people are, you would despair too. In some places I’ve visited there’s been more than four powercuts a day and life has continued as normal. Can you imagine what would happen in England if a place had four powercuts in a week? People’s heads would roll! Four powercuts a day?! Governments would be overthrown!
I’ve laughed with people, listened to people’s stories, sympathised with and also celebrated their fates. I feel like even over four short months I’ve witnessed changes happening here, landing in Delhi just as the protests were kicking off for example, and also seen glimmers of hope for the future. We say English people have a stiff upper lip, that we ‘stay calm and carry on’ but I believe some of the Indians I’ve met really take that trophy. So many people put up with so much adversity, hardship and, in some cases, real poverty every single day all over the world and still manage to have a giggle when the times right. I’ve seen how different a country this big can really be, the difference between North and South, how a five hour car journey moves you less than a millimetre on the map, the multiple languages, religions and races that exist under the same roof and how well they all get along. I’ve been impressed by the amazing culture, stunned by the country’s incredible natural beauty and awed by the historical legacy which exists here. I’ve also seen warnings of what happens when we don’t look after that legacy, when we ruin our natural surroundings and when we cling onto cultural aspects that are damaging our progression into the future. I’ve made friends who I hope to keep forever and realised that some things are better left behind. I feel like if you tried to bottle the essence of India, the glass vial would persistently change in colour and temperature, shaking violently on the shelf until before you know it the entire thing has cracked in an explosion of colour, the glowing shades dripping down your walls in a wash of rainbow iridescence whilst you stand awestruck, unsure whether to laugh or cry before the brilliant chaos before you. As twee as it may sound, I also feel like India has made me a better person. Wiser about the dangers that really exist, but also more open to sharing the wonderful times which can be had with others. Learning when its right to let things go and which things are worth putting up a fight for.
At times it can seem like everything is a shared experience in India, if something happens on the street, its only minutes before a huge crowd has congregated to join in, to watch the fun or cheer on from the sidelines. That’s what travelling here has given me. A shared experience. I hope to take all those amazing people, wonderful experiences and incredible memories with me as I move on, along with all the ups & downs, the things that have shocked me, inspired me or made me think that little bit more about some things we take for granted back in the UK. So Namaste India, but also Thank you India (Danyavaad India Ji) for one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you to all the truly inspirational I’ve met, especially those in Jodhpur and Delhi, and here’s to a great future! Thank you for being you and I hope to see you again soon.
Over and out for the last time on the Indian Subcontinent, see you in Australia amigos.