India, Shock with Awe: Day 20


The last time I left India, just eight months ago, I related the effect the country had on me to a scruffy, irritating, acidic kiss from which I recoiled…and then later longed for. As the horns screamed around our taxi from the airport, I turned to Chris and said, “Home Sweet Home.” He nodded.

This place, upon first impact, is not exactly this easy to embrace and appreciate. In fact, the heat radiating from every passing vehicle and the sun was blistering. Dust already covered my face. The passing vistas revealed some atrocious living conditions, but having already been here on a combined three trips, we were aware of what to expect and how things work in the Subcontinent.

I asked Chris, “If this were your first time in India, what do you think you’d be in shock of right now?”

From this started a sporadic conversation of things that described the crazy differences between our American understandings and the realities of India.

  • The modes of transportation spanning from cars, bikes, and auto rickshaws to camels, horses, and the occasional very hot elephant.

  • The near absence of road rules and the organized chaos of traffic flow.

  • The smog that covers the entire city and reflects back in the eye as blinding light.

  • The smell: a mix of feces, incense, flowers, chicken coups, dirt, trash, spices, delicious food, bonfires, and a few other things indiscernible.

  • The brightly colored sarees, Sikh turbans, and fully covering clothing in +40 degree Celsius heat.

  • The red, rotting teeth edging most open mouths.

  • The roughly one inch space between our taxi and all vehicles surrounding ours while moving at 40mph.

How is a place so rough to our senses so lovable?

India. Over one billion people can’t be wrong.