thanks for slapping me in the face. My time with you was brief, intense and horribly planned. It was even my first visit to Asia so you definitely gave me a rough introduction to your continent. I started out in the small desert town of Jaisalmer known as “The Golden city” where I had managed to establish contact with some Indian people running a restaurant. They gave me a good sense of the culture and the not to do’s when you’re a newbie which eased the rest of my trip. I went on a camel safari in the Thar desert, I enjoyed a messy party in the backyard with a spicy mutton stew cooked over open-fire and I got kinda drunk on the rooftop with the nepalese waiter who introduced me to “nepalese wine” (coke & cheap rum).
Your country happens to be a tad more rough and intimidating than mine. On my domestic flights and during the crazy bus rides I seemed to be the only westerner which inevitably created a feeling of being this vulnerable outcast, but to some extent I realize that it’s just my brain producing these irrational thoughts. What I experienced was just the everyday life for millions of people with the same basic needs as me. I thereby also want to thank you for keeping my eyes wandering and my mind open, it’s easy to forget how close we are to each other when I get tangled up in those everyday routines.
However, In Delhi my inexperience of visiting large megacities got exposed and I was perhaps a bit naive. From alleyways more crowded than a Rolling Stones-concert to the brutal traffic and the endless number of approaching salesmen in Paharganj and Connaugt place. It took me some time to get comfortable and I was definitely humbled by the number of people just fighting for survival each day.
We do have poverty and misery in Sweden but it’s nothing like yours. Countless of men sitting on the streets in the Arab quarter of Old delhi patiently waiting for someone to buy them food. Weary mothers holding their babies scraping their unkempt long fingernails on car windows begging for money. Also, the four little girls locked up in a wooden cage sucking on lollipops waiting to be sold will probably be engraved on my memory forever. Our world can be so brutally cruel and stunningly beautiful at the same time.
One of my reasons for travelling is to experience cultures different to my own and expanding my perception of the world around me. Sometimes, the culture and religion we inherit needs to progress but that doesn’t happen over night. Despite the existence of what seems to be bottomless evil there’s no reason to stop living. On the contrary, we should embrace curiosity and let the eventual struggles inspire us is to bring more kindness into the world. Oh, and thank you for the food and for the spices.
Till we meet again India, take care.
This is the first piece of three about my visit to India.