I’m in India now, on my fourth long stay. Choking on fumes and listening to car horns as I bounce in an auto-rickshaw on a pothole-studded road, I wonder why I keep coming back. It’s a question that I ask myself every day here.
While spending time in India, meeting other foreign travellers is inevitable. Most people that I talk to fall into one of two categories: those that love India, and those that hate it. While I definitely fall into the former category, India can still be be a very difficult place to be and stay and make a life!
“India has many problems,” my Banarsi-born friend always says. The electricity problem, garbage problem, dust problem, corruption problem, overpopulation problem. India has also been said to be ‘too much.’ Here, all of your senses are assaulted on a daily basis until you are too blind, deaf and burnt-tongued to be able to complain anymore. Incidentally, all of the things that make life inconvenient and inefficient are the things that people develop an affection for.
I come to India not to generalize my opinions, but to delight in enjoying the differences found within a country where each state has its own culture, religion, musical and dance traditions, food and clothing.
I come to India not to avoid unpleasant feelings, but to live an honest experience that includes seeing garbage, pollution and human and animal waste.
I come to India not to fondle silk between my fingers or sniff at rich spices, but rather to marvel at the way that life thrives here, almost despite everything that makes it difficult to be here. While at least once every day, I ask myself ‘What am I doing here?’ at least ten times every day, I feel as though I’m in the right place at the right time. I rarely feel that way when I’m at home in Canada, and I know that I’m not alone!
I breathed a sigh of relief upon arrival in India a month ago, and am looking forward to another five months of in the country, with its incredible spectrum of experiences to be had. I’m excited to see what’s coming next.
Bronwyn McBride is a student from Vancouver, BC, and now lives between India and Canada. After quitting her intensive study of circus arts and dance in Quebec, Bronwyn flew across the globe alone to see if she could live in a very different way. It wasn’t her first visit to India, and wouldn’t be her last!
Wherever she is, Bronwyn explores different ways to volunteer and get involved with local communities. She’s worked with severely disabled kids in a Mother Teresa orphanage in Kolkata, crossed the country with a social change performance tour, and has spent long months through the boiling summer in Varanasi, working in a school for girls. Next up: enjoying volunteerism and a foray into Bollywood in India’s cosmopolitan metropolis, Mumbai.
More of Bronwyn’s writing can be found at: www.bronwyngrace.wordpress.com