I was applying for the visa- this time not just for myself, but for 4 people. My whole family. I am this time going back to planet India with my family. It's going to be different. But I know it will still be the same. This crazy hug from mother India. She, who hugs you, as a loving grandmother, and teaches you a few lessons. Or many.
Planet India. Where nothing is black or white. There is always also, beyond the yin and the yang- the transgender.
In 2004, I was on a journey through Asia, which lasted for just under a year, which was going to lead me towards my undergraduate studies at SOAS, University of London. I found out while in the Philippines that I had been accepted to my degree of choice; politics and history studies of the Middle East. I dreamed of being a journalist in Gaza, reporting amidst bombs and explosions, living on the edge. telling the world what was really happening at that sore little spot on this planet.
And then I met India.
Not the usual shocking landing in New Delhi or Mumbai that travellers tell stories of; no. I flew to Dhaka, Bangladesh and spent 10 days in total madness on this different planet of millions of dark large eyes staring at me while travelling overland to India. I entered India on a donkey-cart, through a very quiet little border crossing, and felt relieved, as people were not staring as much, and things felt slightly more like the planet I come from.
I spent a few days in Calcutta, and got sick, of course. Nothing major, and not majorly impressed with India, either.
But then I came to Varanasi with the overnight train, drinking sweet chai in ceramic cups, arriving at sunrise. After a little minor drama of almost being kidnapped by a drug addict rickshaw-driver and all my personal instinct alarm-bells going off and ending up screaming like crazy in a dead-end leading to a scary house with darkness inside, I then finally ended up along the ghats, by the river Ganges, dumping my big bad at the Vishnu hotel, and then walking down the steps towards that mighty river, I for the first time felt awed by all that I saw. Awed, as in... I humbly bow down to all of this, to Varanasi, to this river, to the incense, to that dead body burning, to this chai, to this smell, to these monkeys and to all this craziness happening right here all while that noisy music is playing from the cracked speakers and those people are shaving their heads and the other ones are bathing themselves in that dirty bacteria-filled water and these dogs are begging and those people with leprosy are staring at me asking for a few rupees and I am just... overwhelmed by this. And I need to know more.
And she made me so sick, she made almost die with cerebral malaria. And she made me want to know so much more. And she made me hate her, she made me scream into the Indira Gandhi airport concrete "I'll NEVER come back you bitch!!" but I did come back and I did love her again and she did hug me again but I left again saying this is NOT my place int he world but then again I learnt so much while stuck in New Delhi because of this stupid fog so no trains would go anywhere and I was there for weeks and weeks in this city of magical doors and spider webs and I took so many pictures and I practiced yoga and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I lived a life I wanted within this web of dreams of parathas of chai... In the faces of spirituality I saw a promise of eternity, a promise of something else, beyond all of the material.
And now we are going back. To Goa. With the children. A different planet India, they call it India Light. I don't know. India is still India and I have full respect for Grandmother India and I am sure she'll have a few more lessons to teach me.
I'm sure Ibiza and Goa will connect my life and my journey and I am sure yoga will grow even stronger and I am sure I'll hate and love and love and hate again.
Mother India. See you very soon. (scary) (exciting)