Sunday, November 25, 2012

The After

This needs to be the first thing I write.
Before I get sucked back into the vortex of the white middle class life I live.  The life where I am gifted with health and wealth and happiness and my babies have full bellies, and squishy pillows and too many toys and don't have to go out at night asking strangers for money with skin black from filth and matted hair covering wildlife festering underneath.  The life where I write about being healthy and happy.  And inane slices of my inane life.

We've just got back from 16 incredible days of India and yes, there will be funny yarns to come.  But first this.

I know many of you read the fabulous Eden from Edenland and know she has just travelled to India with World Vision.  Her powerful descriptions of her experiences in Very Non-Touristy India are more confronting than ours as we wandered through Touristy India.  But the assault on the senses and the heart were shared.  You see India is everything we expected it to be.  It's filthy, but somehow the filth filtered out after a while and it became normal to seeing two crows pecking at a dead rat near where you're standing attempting to cross the roads.  It became normal to walk across a pile of rubbish rather than walk around it, as there is rubbish there too. It became normal to look fierce and angry, avoiding all eye contact so you wouldn't have to respond to the touts and the beggars.  Once The Husband rudely ignored a man's handshake at a restaurant as he thought was a tout trying to get something off us.  It was just a man celebrating Diwali with his family.  My husband went back, apologised, shook his hand, and chatted with the family.  Our default to rudeness shocked us.  We're nice people.  It became normal to walk single file not straying from a straight line as only cm's away was a car tyre, motorbike, rickshaw, cow or tout.  Hold your line.  It amazes me we came home with no injuries.  Someone had our back while we were there because noone can be that lucky.  It became normal to look into a tired room with dampish sheets and nod our heads saying "that will be fine".  The old plastic buckets and jugs for cleaning your bum even became normal (even if unused).

And sadly, the beggars and the poverty became normal.  But I've got to give this some perspective.  This is their normal.  They know no other life.  For many, this is the life they are born into and they will die in.  Their terms of reference to life is this.  Rightly or wrongly.  And we can't change this.

So we chose to look past the parts we thought were "bad" but they think are normal. Instead we celebrated the amazingness of this country we were so lucky to be able to visit.  It's like nothing else.  The food, the noise, the smells, the colours, the colours were incredible.  The diversity of the country and the timeless traditions.  And mostly the joy and utter devotion to their religion, to their beliefs and to their families.  And the happiness and friendliness.  People clamoured to take our photo and would thrust babies into my husbands arms or wrap their arms around us as they asked for a photo and we'd be swamped by a massive family, all wanting to stand close and touch us.

Each day we would shake our head in wonder - from the burning bodies at the Ganges to the hip and cosmopolitan Mumbai, not one moment disappointed, not one moment failed to deliver.

Not one.


  1. Goosebumps. Awesome Lise. What an incredible journey you had. Have just finished watching a doco on India - it totally captivates me. Can't wait to go one day. xxxxx