Friday, May 27, 2011

Beautiful India

The Asian sub-continent is a study in contrasts.

 A line of faithful waiting to enter the Lotus Temple/Baha'i House of Worship in Delhi 

Much of India is dirty, dusty and littered with garbage. It's a sight that can be hard to see and experience if you're used to a cleaner environment.

The beauty of India's people makes up for the fracas ten fold, what with their beautifully draped saris, brightly colored shawls, bejeweled wrists, ears, fingers and toes. And perhaps the most beautiful sight to see is a stunning smile stretched across the face of a man, woman or child - a greeting that needs no translation for anyone.

India's spirit is bursting with kindness and personal generosity. Most folks openly welcome visitors and each other with friendly engagement and warm, peaceful disposition.

It's enough to make you play along and respectfully bow your head, put your hands together and gently say, "Namaste."

 Indian Tourists Walking Around the Base of the Taj Mahal

I am typically the kind of girl who finds comfort in black clothing. The dark garb offers forgiving lines, concealing my extra curves and padded rolls. Indian women eschew any such cloaked drapery. Instead, they wear saris, salwar kameez and kurtas that are as bright as every color as the rainbow (though red and pink are popular colors as they are the color of femininity in India), adorned with special trims, embroidery, sequins, beading and other flashy finishes.

It really was quite a sight, going somewhere and seeing crowds of Indian people, especially women, decked out in vibrant, technicolor hues we typically reserve for more garish costumes.

It made me want to toss out my trusty, black cardigan and pick up a few neon colored wraps. (Shh, don't tell anyone - I did!)

Villagers outside of Jaipur who were not accustomed to welcoming tourists

My absolute favorite stop on the tour in India was the visit to a rural village.

After a week of battling touts and beggars, our guide decided to take us to a different village than originally scheduled. Our big bus pulled up to this rural community with a dirt road running through it. This community is off the beaten path and not a regular stop for tour buses, and its people haven't had much exposure to folks from the Western World.

We each stepped off the bus and were immediately greeted by the most beautiful people I've ever seen in the world.

The children were especially warm and curious about us (this community has not seen many white people), and walked up to us with warm smiles, some wanting to practice the Western handshake they'd previously learned.

The visit to the village was completely inspirational and spectacular, and well deserved of its own blog post. More to come.

The beauty of India is enshrined in so many obvious places - the Taj Mahal, the glittering palaces, temples and mosques. But the true beauty of this somewhat impoverished country is in its people, who greet with warmth, friendship and kindness.

It's an attitude I can definitely take to heart.

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1 comment:

Michael E. Rubin said...

I was so delighted to see this morning that you wrote up some of your experiences in India. I've always wanted to go. It seems such a remarkable place, and your post and photos really make me feel like I was there, too.

Thank you for sharing. Namaste, indeed!