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Jonathan: The things I love about India

February 27, 2011

Before you begin reading, be sure to check out the recently posted photographs!

Living in the developing world is not an easy task, even if it is an emerging country.  Nothing can quite prepare you for some of the confusing situations, the seeming incomprehensibility of it all, and the constant reality of people living their lives the only way they can.  A land of extremes, India has taken us eleven Americans on quite the trip thus far.  And yes, I would never trade my time here; this is where I need to be right now in my life.  It is time to chronicle what I’ve come to appreciate about this place, or rather the iteration of India that I’ve thus far been exposed to.  There are things I do not like here, things I wish were different; things that challenge me and sadden me and anger me.  But there are things that give me great joy and pleasure.  In a country filled with so many realities, this is just one small slice of one of the many India’s.  Read on!

I love the sound of the Ganesh temple at six in the morning as rickshaw drivers, fruit wallas, businessmen, students, grandmothers, beggars, and many others begin to offer their prayers.

I love my walk to school on Wednesday morning as the street becomes a colorful bazaar with every imaginable necessity and trinket for sale as the masses hoard to offer blessings on such an auspicious day.

I love the smell of the city after a freak winter rainstorm, its pollutants either washed away or diluted, the smell of runny cow dung hanging lightly.

I love that the cow rules the road, and that monkeys seem to pose for photographs.

I love to laugh with rickshaw drivers as they try and cheat us and we call their bluff.

I love to watch old Indian men practice laughing yoga in the morning, standing in all types of unexpected poses, their big bellies bulding and their heads shaking in laughter.

I love way that Indian mothers click their toung when you say you’re full after just two chipatti’s, and the way they pinch your sides when teasing you.

I love that no question is off limits, that there is never fear in asking, and that one never has to answer either.

I love the way heads bobble to the side here in response to nearly every inquiry either too complex or too unknown for an answer.

I love taking bucket baths, shivering between ladels but using so much less water.

I love terrifying rickshaw rides, weaving in and out of traffic through impossibly tight alley ways and over much too tall speed bumps.

I love the way the mist hangs over the Thar Desert in the morning, a seemingly endless terrain with just the tops of mangeled and thorny trees coming out.

I love that I hear music constantly in the streets, streaming out of cell phones and houses wherever I go.

I love that I am never alone, even when my door is closed.

I love that neighbors and family seem to blend together; that the door is always open to a visitor; that the tenent in our house brings my host-grandmother prashad (spiritual offering) when she cannot go to the temple.

I love drinking steaming cups of sugary chai at least three times a day.

I love that I can buy sweets and samosas and other treats at every block.

I love how Indians so fiercely believe in their democratic experiment, not matter the corruption that besets them.

I  love that the use of Ayurvedic and Allopathic medicine has blended to create a uniquely Indian approach to health.

I love that salesmen board busses and hawk their wares, and that this is how people stock up on everything from pencils to bracelets.

For whatever it is worth, this is what I remind myself of during the most difficult of moments…

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