Friday, January 28, 2011

INDIA, my love

Shy and timid, bright and loud, hot and humid, joyful and disheartening, harsh and unforgiving, India is the land I first discovered at the tender age of 17. I fell in love with it the minute I landed at then Santa Cruz Airport in the Northern suburbs of then Bombay (now Mumbai), a mega metropolis located on the lush tropical coast of western India. I stayed long enough to realize I would be back later on in life. Exactly 10 years later, I returned to India and lived in Delhi for 3 years. Needless to say I got close and personal with India. I got to know the good, the bad and the ugly. As a matter of fact when you are in India you get to see all three in one sitting. You can't go to town without the smells and the loud noises of traffic, you can't see the Taj Mahal without first being harassed by beggars and you can't go shopping without bargaining. India is like a mirror you put in front of your face. You may not understand or like what you see but when you learn to deal with it, it becomes a lot simpler. Some people just can't or won't deal. It's that simple. India forces you to open doors in your soul which sometimes are better left closed. It can be disturbing but never dull. It is guaranteed to open your senses and drive you crazy. It is a journey which must be taken at least once in a lifetime.

Father and son at the Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan.
The Pushkar Fair or Mela as it is referred to in India, is the World's largest camel market. 

Street vendor in Jaipur, Rajasthan display their nimbus (small lemons).

Delivering a banana load to market in Tamil Nadu

Joyfully performing tedious domestic tasks in a Mysore street, Karnataka

The City Palace in Udaipur. It was built by the Maharana Udai Mirza Singh as the capital of the Sisodia Rajput clan in 1559, after he moved from Chittor. It is located on the east bank of the Lake Pichola and has several palaces built within its complex. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar in the Rajputana Agency and its last capital.

Potter in Songharwa, Bihar making Diwali diyas or lanterns. Diwali is the most important Hindu festival equivalent to a Christian Christmas in importance. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप, filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.  

The Taj Mahal in Agra is certainly one of the most recognizable building on Earth. With its graceful lines, the intricacy of its adornment, the whiteness of its marble and its location, the Taj Mahal is truly spectacular. In my 3 years in India, I visited the Taj many times and never got tired of it. Actually since I visited at different times of the day, various seasons and weather, I saw a different Taj everytime. The light changes its color and is ever transforming its mood.  The most beautifully crafted, like a jewel box lost in the middle of heaven (Mughals regarded gardens as a map of heaven on Earth), the Taj Mahal is truly the most royal of all buildings. It is worth many visits. I can't wait to go back again !

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