I’m writing this letter to you from the safety of a self-imposed week long quarantine, as I try to make sure the marks you left on me will only be in my heart and not physical. Up until now, you kept me safe.
I was familiar with you for some time. I saw you in movies, magazines and books. People were praising you, criticizing you or crying for you, but they always seemed to return to you. And you always took them back, with boundless kindness. I wanted to come and meet you, maybe even become friends. Something always kept me away though. I remember reading about you in Eat, Pray, love – that was about two years ago. You were derided, called plain and hollow, but in the end, you played your card and made yourself loved by Elizabeth. You cured her wounded heart and gave back her hope in people, love, life. Because now I know what you are all about: love, kindness, life. And then I felt completely won over by you.
You see, dear India, from afar few people know you and even fewer get to love your essence of being. Up until they end up in your footsteps and face your reality.
A reality that is, on one hand, dull and grey, but on the other hand full of colour and beauty. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it?
I, for one, admit. I was afraid of you. Two days before my departure I was dead set on giving up this trip. They say that there’s a time for everything and I wanted to believe that this was my time. But I didn’t feel strong enough and ready enough to face you. I was afraid of diseases. I was afraid of people. I was afraid of you. I was ready to give up on so many beautiful experiences just so I wouldn’t have to face these fears. I let you down, I know. But I also know that you have forgiven me: you’ve shown me this through all the experiences you led me through and the way you made me feel. I used to believe that the strongest opponent one can face is themselves, but you’ve shown me how to leave this battle in the past. To turn it into something efficient, into something so good and kind that it becomes contagious. I feel different since we’ve known each other.
You, dear India, do not show off at all. You’re not like others: polished on the surface, but rotten or barren inside. Au contraire.
It took us two days to adapt to your new reality. I mean, we can find some dirty areas with junk and trash and stray animals and homeless people in our home country as well. But we never imagined that this would be what we’d run into every day in India. Before we came here, people were saying this kind of things, but we immediately dismissed their opinion as exaggerated fabrications.
Shockingly, dear India is that you don’t seem to mind or suffer. It’s just us, your visitors, who constantly use a different set of value scales and principles, interpret your reality as the brim of poverty and sadness. Through a reverse psychology, this would be that we are in fact the ones poor, sad and superficial. Do you even know what it’s like to lead our lives? If you’d know, you’d definitely alter your essence, you would no longer be the India for which many return with an open heart. Let’s conclude that we don’t envy you, but that you don’t envy us either.
You, India, are a voyage of the senses. A visit to your home is, above all, about sights and sounds. About taking in the scents and living the emotions. You, dear India, are about people, about spiritual warmth and honest friendship. About the total submission of the senses in your surroundings. A journey to your home is a life-altering experience. Now I know.
I’ve grown convinced that everything about you inspires good, positive energies. It seems a bit ironic to admit, despite your frantic mood, that you are the country of patience and tolerance. You’ve given the world so much, but above all, you’ve offered love and healing.
You’ve offered the Taj Mahal, a love story which lasted over the centuries and feels eternal. A love story which defeated the revenge-fueled sentiment between the father and son; the Holi festival, which defeats darkness and whose message brings together and unites souls and nations of the most diverse kind; the Ranthambore National Park, because your universal love also includes the love for animals, and you truly care about them, regardless of how wild they would be. You’ve also offered us the iconic image of the cow as a sanctified animal and this only because this animal is the embodiment of the mother, a central piece in your entire existence, along with the family as a whole.
You surprise us, in the most positive way, through patience and calm. You’re probably wondering how did I come to this conclusion. By travelling your roads, in chaotic traffic, in which the rules are nonexistent, where it took us 5-6 hours to travel 200 kilometres, but which always kept us safe. With people so present in traffic, it seems incredible. I’ll let you in on a little secret: if this would have happened back home, it would have lead to some very ugly conflicts. Violence, which you don’t condone in any way, shape or form.
The ones back home don’t know – or if they know they can’t really understand your strength, dear India. They are too easily influenced by your appearances, without trying to talk to you, to discover you. They would then know who you are, your credo, according to which you give, so much and so often, without expecting anything in return. They’d understand why so many feel attracted to you, flock to you, drawn like towards their mothers to cure them of all this world’s problems. Because you know that virtues cure and transform and make all demons go away. And, thusly cured, you set them free, one by one, to find their place in the world, to love and be loved.
You surprised us through colour, diversity, unity, tolerance, patience, kindness, smiles and positive energies.
You’ve taught us that it’s enough to answer to smiles with smiles in order to attract the good around you. Karma is not really our belief back home, but we learned to adopt it and believe in its power because of you. You’ve taught us that love trumps hate, that violence has no place in this world, that we can be a whole if we want, regardless of our skin colour. You’ve taught us that we need so little to be happy and that greed specific to the Western world will never be the answer. The most important lesson- love for the parents and family, which takes a central spot in your existence.
Dear India, you’re timeless and you deserve to be observed with an open mind and open heart. Don’t be alarmed that most choose to love you or hate you in the end, but you must be aware that nobody will be indifferent, no matter what. I’d love you to take me back someday, but only when I will feel ready again to discover you.Thank you for reading this article, if you have a question or a suggestion, please leave a comment.
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