Friday, 10 April 2009

A Taste of India

"India is like trying to read a serious book of history with the television on, the cassette player turned up high, the children yelping and neighbors quarreling. It is an acquired taste and if you don't get it, India is one gigantic headache," Abe Rosenthal, the famous New York Times editor, and an India lover.
I tried to wrap my head, more like mouth, around India. First it was Dosa. Then Chai Tea, Chapathi, Idli, Idiyappam. Some I liked. Some I didn't. Did it even matter? Seize the day! Live it up even in the most unlikely places.

On the contrary, maybe I didn't come to India to try to understand this place at all. Maybe I came for a more selfish reason, to learn about others in the hope of understanding myself. To learn more about myself through the eyes of others. For instance, my friend Mercy thinks I'm very simple. I don't wear a lot of make-up nor jelwery when I travel. To Indians, I'm incredibly plain. I don't even care much about going to touristy sites. I'd rather take a stroll in the park with her and her kids or just simply hang out with new friends. At this point, I'm more interested in the people. For instance, I rode on the bus yesterday with the kids from the AIDS Home, and they got so excited about something outside the window. At first I heard the word elephants. That's common enough for kids to be excited to see such big animals. But when I looked out, I realized they meant airplanes. Wow, when was the last time I got excited about seeing an airplane, more than 20 years ago perhaps. As a child, I used to make a wish when I saw an airplane. As a child, I used to get excited about the simple things in life like begging my mom to let me run around in the rain, digging a hole in the ground and hoping to come up on the other side, or dancing in front of the mirror and using my mom's make-up and putting on her dresses and high-heels.
I treasure the limited time I have with my friend Mercy, whom I consider to be my angel. I didn't like her when we first met in Indonesia ( I wrote about her story in detail in the Thailand(My Siam) blog). But this morning we prayed together on the rooftop of her house. We have an unlikely friendship. I dont' deserve to be treated like a princess in her home.

Pretty soon, I hope to be off to Bangolore or Bangaluru, if that's God's will and if I could get a train ticket. I'm planning to deviate from my original itinerary, such is the art of traveling, someone says. We'll see. It'd be cool to have another taste of India.

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