India. For those of you who’ve been here – a reminder of how crazy it can be … and for those of you who haven’t (yet) had the pleasure, this will serve as an introduction to the country’s spirited and joyful anarchy …
India, as always, weaves a divine web of experiences – every day providing the unexpected, the joyous, the surreal and the utterly comical. It somehow though always manages to provide time to reflect, read, write or whatever we need to escape pressures and the often artificial timetables we create to fill our day with what we think we have to do to justify our existence or simply to survive.
The problem of course is that we so often fill our time with what WE think we need or what others expect of us. It doesn’t work quite like that here – our conditioned auto-pilot is often quite simply not allowed to function. The intensity of life challenges the foundations of what we do and what we think on a daily basis. That happens wherever we are obviously but somehow here, because of the intensity, it’s not so easy to brush the challenges aside. In India you have to be pretty entrenched in your beliefs not to be affected by a very different view of the world, alien to most of us, which constantly shocks, amuses and seduces us into new, exciting and unknown territories. It would be foolhardy, if not downright churlish, not to embrace the revelations to be discovered.
The best advice I ever had about visiting India was when I left England for the Himalayas in the mid-70’s and it came from a shop-keeper in Paddington, England. “Whatever you expect India to be or whatever you expect you might find there, I can guarantee it will be something completely different that you see and discover.” How right he was then – and still is now. This country has a unique and curious alchemy that continually surprises, bewilders and rejuvenates.
We saw a dozen dolphins cruise along the beach, not a hundred yards from shore – a sight to make the heart leap. A young novice offered me a prayer and it felt like my soul had been brushed by butterfly wings. I have been confined to my room for five evenings – my foot wrapped in bandages. It’s supposed to be sunny but we have tropical rainstorms which are dazzlingly beautiful as waves of blue lightning blaze through the coconut groves. We have seen temple elephants, butterflies and rare tropical birds.
Tomorrow? … well … exactly.
Metallica will have to wait until I get back to Blighty. The wooden keyboard I’m using requires a sledge-hammer to operate the Shift Key. That and the steam-driven hard-drive conspire to destroy spontaneity and to inhibit the number of sentences I can write without resorting to using the sledge-hammer to put this pathetic bloody-minded machine out of its misery.