India has been full of surprises. I didn’t really know what to expect, but if I had expectations, India has exceeded them and then some.
At times it seems like pure chaos. I watched men launching themselves onto (and off of) a moving train, tuk tuks squeezing into impossibly tight spaces on the road, and sacred cows and monkey running amok. Motorized vehicles would rather get into an accident than accidentally hit a cow.
Other times, it’s incredibly peaceful. We walked along the ghats of Varanasi in the rain, stopping to quietly contemplate the cremations happening along the bank of the Ganges, listened to Sufis since Qawwali at a dargah, seeing a Muslim and a Sikh laugh toghether, walking along Chowpatty Beach at sunset, and the tranquility of the Taj Mahal lost in the mist.
I’ve been disappointed. By touts and scammers who tell us our train tickets aren’t valid or that we have to go to a “tourist office” to fix it and by knock-off restaurants that mimic a charitable organization.
But I’ve also been pleasantly surprised. Mostly by the kindness of strangers. I can in blinders up and ready to play hardball but, most of the time, it’s been unnecessary. The kindness shown here to two fareng who don’t speak any Hindi has helped humble me and restore my faith in humanity a little.
And so far, I have loved it. It’s been trying at times and desperately in need of some quite time, but it’s been incredible.