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The beauty of India

India Travel Blog

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Holi festival in Jodhpur

Whenever I enter a plane and as soon as the human bird accelerates on the runway, lifting me up high in the sky into a space without yesterday or tomorrow, I flip a switch inside myself. I call it the travel switch. When my travel switch is off, I´m this lazy couch potato, who grumbles about walking 200 meters to the next supermarket. When I turn on the switch, I change to travel mode. I become the "travel me" and a hike up a mountain is all I can think of. It happens automatically, as if the “lazy me” falls asleep on my comfortable couch and the “travel me” wakes up in the middle of a skydive; from semi-bored idleness to sudden, frenetic bouts of fun-seeking.

Whenever I travel somewhere, I wish that I could just skip the plane ride, the take off, the landing, the taxi to the hotel or hostel, the check in, etc.

Indian zombies of colour
I´d rather prefer to go to bed one evening in my home and then wake up suddenly in totally new surroundings. And then simply step outside and be overwhelmed by the newness, the strangeness and the bliss of a new place.

Even though I haven´t found a way yet to put this wish into practice I still felt as if it was the case when I arrived in India.  Arriving in India is like entering another dimension. I felt like being catapulted through a black hole and coming out on the other end in a weird, unfamiliar place where everything is different to what I´m used to. The sounds. The smells. The sights. The tastes. The feelings. A whirlwind for the senses.

running down the dunes
And I´m not necessarily talking about the common term “culture shock”, it´s more like a sensory overload with all its positive and negative connotations.

In India, I wanted to travel with an aim and at the same time with no aim at all. I was ready for new moments of solitude. I feared as much as I longed for the hardship of Indian life. Again I was willing to sharpen my senses and to expand my mind with all those new impressions and intakes. Only to realize that I could probably never take it all in; it would simply be too much, which in return is of course better than too little.

Let´s be honest, when we travel to “third world” countries like India we actually want to see poverty.

sunset jump
We want to see the misery in the people, we want to observe their hardship. No, that´s not exactly true, maybe we don´t want it, we want the people to be happy and healthy and well-fed and clean, but then wouldn´t it be boring, wouldn´t it simply be the same as back home? What is it that attracts us to poverty? I think it is the fact that more than our want for other people´s hardship, through them we want to find our own hardship, to test our limits and to see where our dignity ends,  and then try see the world through their eyes, to learn by being level with them and not afloat on top of them, to greet them (during the journey and long afterwards) in a way that shows respect and that makes them see “we understand you”. We want to feel ourselves being lonely, being hungry, being devastated, we want to taste the foul stench in the air. And we need to see and feel all that through their eyes and emotions, by participating in their everyday life, seeing how they live and listening to their thoughts and feelings.
monkeys in Pushkar
 After all, we, as travelers, are all ambassadors, we are powerful people, we can change the world. We transport our values and morals and beliefs and our culture back and forth to different corners of the world and when we deliver them, we receive another packet stamped “return to sender” and take it with us, packed with new values and morals and beliefs.

Traveling, then, has two bonuses. First of all, through traveling we see a country, its people, their beliefs, their view of the world, their fears and worries, their idea of happiness; all those things that we would ordinarily never known or probably even ignore. And secondly, traveling puts a mirror right in front of your face. However, it´s not a normal mirror, it´s one of those that magnifies your face and shows you both your sugar-coated side  as well as every crevice and flaw.

woman picking flowers
And with that mirror we see through the blackness of our pupil and into our mind, into our soul, we see who we are.

As a traveler, on the road, we are a different person. By traveling we feel and think in a twisted way, it´s like taking a newly discovered way in the labyrinth of our self. Everything that we usually are, everything that constitutes us in the world we´re used to, is not valid in a new country, in a new world. Our job, our beliefs and morals, our attitudes, everything we take for granted back home, does not count any more. We are a nobody, like an empty, hollow vessel that needs to be refilled and is willingly taking in as much as it might possibly hold. And it is through that bizarre state of mind that we come in contact with a deeper part within ourselves.

This is the reason why I feel most alive when far away from home. It´s not only that I´m living. I actually feel that I´m alive when I´m traveling, physically and emotionally. When I´m traveling, I´m like a blind lover on a dark road, searching for the light. Like an infant, taking in the world with an insatiable curiosity. I surround myself with incomprehensible things and am struggling to understand and even though I may not understand much at first, I know later that I have become wiser.

In India, there is neither past nor future, there is just the moment. India is about replacing one´s dreams by pure realities. In India, by seeing human misery you´ll find humanity. India is a country of contrasts: it is divine yet demonic, deafening yet tranquil, surreal yet so real, brainsick yet sane, dirty yet paradoxically untainted, elusive yet undaunting, puzzling yet expressive.

want a smoke?
India has certainly been overrun by modern technology and economic growth and population increase, yet at the same time it miraculously managed to maintain its spirituality. And even though its spirituality has suffered from commercialism in some places, it can still be found and often hits you unprepared, creating a confusing yet beautiful cocktail of thoughts in your mind and twisting your soul. India is exuberantly wild and extremely nuts, but besides all that India remains real and incredibly pure and innocent. India is like a melody, like some catchy tune: once it enters your heart and mind, the pulsating rhythm of the song cannot be silenced.

In India, your mood can change from unprecedented happiness to bitter frustration within a split second, and vice versa.

balancing act at Taj Mahal
India is about feeling disappointed and enlightened, all in the blink of an eye. True, India can be very unpleasant but once you manage to block out all the bad parts, all the hassle, all the struggle, all the poverty, all the problems, all the wacky parts, what you´ll find underneath it all is the pure beauty. It might be a simple moment of beauty or it might be the most mind-blowing, touching, haunting, most beautiful beauty you´ve ever seen.

What I liked most about India was the unexpected beauty. It is lurking around every corner and often jumps at you with such a force that you can´t help but fall in love. The beauty of India is like art. And I don´t mean boring modern art like a simple black canvas, I mean the most colourful and spellbinding painting you have ever seen. But it doesn´t end there. The more you contemplate the painting, the more details you see, the more forms begin to take shape and suddenly every stroke of the brush makes sense and adds to the perfection of this grand masterpiece.

nellalaz says:
a very very insightful story..
thank you very much :)
Posted on: Jun 25, 2010
Morle says:
Thanks to everyone for your congrats on the feature! I really appreciate it! Writing this blog was kind of a journey in itself, so I´m really happy to receive all these nice comments from you! :)
Posted on: Jun 22, 2010
monky says:
Very good pics and blog one of my dream countries to go someday. So, thanks for sharing here more about that very interesting culture.
Posted on: Jun 21, 2010
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Holi festival in Jodhpur
Holi festival in Jodhpur
Indian zombies of colour
Indian zombies of colour
running down the dunes
running down the dunes
sunset jump
sunset jump
monkeys in Pushkar
monkeys in Pushkar
woman picking flowers
woman picking flowers
want a smoke?
want a smoke?
balancing act at Taj Mahal
balancing act at Taj Mahal