“…Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence…”
– Alanis Morissette’s Thank U
I am currently at the waiting area of the Indira Gandhi airport waiting for few more hours to catch my flight to Bangkok. This is it, my last day in your arms. I decided to write you a letter because I had so many thoughts in my head that I wanted to say. And also, reading J.Krishnamurti’s journal has inspired me to do so. India, I am leaving, but I intend to come back, for I have my reasons.
December of last year, we almost gave you up. Instead, we plan to fly to Thailand and explore its beautiful islands and perhaps they won’t give us a hard time with the visa and stuff. Acquiring a visa to get to you, was a total pain in the ass. I missed a dental appointment, and 3 consecutive days of scrumptious breakfasts. I told Valerio, We have to visit India. She must be worth it. We had so much hard time of getting the visa.
We came all the way from Kakharbitta in Nepal and spent 13 hrs in a night bus to get to your border. The night trip was freezing cold – we had to stop to every chai stall along the way to warm ourselves and continue again for a couple of hundred kilometers to get to you. Maybe that’s why we’re delayed for 2 hours because of the many “chai” stops we had.
As soon as we cross the border, my backpack was getting really heavy, and my shoulders are already aching. I feel the energy change. You felt rougher, dirtier, stranger than Nepal. And more exciting! I’ve really grown to love Nepal over the last few weeks, but as I walk into you, I am reminded that, this is a land where anything can happen.
By the time we reach the immigration checkpoint, I was bouncing on my toes in excitement and grinning from ear to ear. This is what Valerio didn’t notice, that I’m filled with excitement and fascination. The official at the desk stares at me, slightly amused. “Welcome to India.”
Welcome to India. These 3 words, I have been wanting to hear since I was 16. Now, it’s totally happening.
I can’t explain what it is about you, but I love every inch of your dirty, smelly, crazy land. There is more poverty and suffering than I’ve ever seen in the southeast and that can be heartbreaking to see, but still the you seem to pulse with vitality. The life here is rawer, more real. And your beauty seems even more intense when set against the filth around me. Too often, it sprung to mind that you are a total mess.
I am happy that I still leave you on a high note. I’ve come to appreciate so many things in a weird way. There are a lot of things about you that I’m going to miss, and these things are also the reasons why I’d love to come back.
The delicate, richly colored sarees of the women. The smells of curries simmering in charred pots in the dhaba. The pedestrian that competes with dogs, old cars, mopeds, auto rickshaws, honking cars, belching trucks, shouting crowds, piles of rotting garbage, fresh dung, parked motorcycles, and retail goods spilling onto the walkways. The sleeper trains. The colorful handmade trinkets. The chai. The samosas, chaats and puri that satisfies my palate every time I feel the need of a comfort food. The delicious Makhanya lassi from Jodhpur. The friendliness and curiosity of the locals who seems genuinely delighted to have me (they said, they rarely meet a Filipina traveler. I take in everything and remember seeing it for the first time, the impression it made on me then and still does now.
You were our shelter for almost a year. We’ve had our ups and downs with you. Sometimes, you are very demanding. You really require us to be in a very good shape to roll with the chaos – to go with your flow. Besides an open heart, it takes a lot of energy to be able to travel independently here. And now, I am going home with a deeper understanding and and an open mind. Thank you for the experiences that you have given us, from Darjeeling all the way down south to Madurai and up north to Rishikesh. Some experiences may it be bad or good, are still good enough to tell.
Thank you for these amazing images that you have laid before my eyes, for sure, I’ve captured you in a unique way.
Thank you, India.
(From my travel journal)