India is a land of contrast. In the six days we have been here, I have seen the highs and lows of humanity, coexisting side by side in some peculiar sort of harmony. I have seen the clashing of time eras as the past takes on the future, old cultures and customs facing off with the advancements of technology and the modern world. Here, I see women dressed in beautiful, brightly colored saris as they sit in the dirt, sorting trash. I see an ox driven cart on the freeway as we pass by it in our bus, other cars and trucks blaring their horns as they go by. I see pastel painted houses next to rundown shacks, half finished buildings that are turning to rubble with billboards plastered on their sides. I see an old woman, her skin wrinkled from sun and time, balancing a basket of fruit on her head, her feet bare and her arms covered in shining golden bangles. I see a man sweeping the trash from his door step, only to have it blown right back by the wind.
I wish I had the language to truly describe this place, to capture its elegance and grief and impossibilities. I wish I could capture all of its vibrancy in an ink bottle and then use it to write down my memories; remembrances of the tastes, the smells, the sounds, and the colors of India. But more than anything, I wish my words could capture the astounding beauty within the Indian people. Looking into the eyes of the old, the young, the somewhere in between, you see the same sense of pride and dignity within each of them. Some of them have suffered hardships I can only imagine, and yet they continue on. They work harder than any other people I have ever seen, lugging fifty-pound bags of rice across villages in one hundred degree heat, or walking a mile just to get a bucket of water from the town well. Smiles are rare but genuine, gifts seen only in moments of true joy. Their faces tell a thousand stories, the truth of their lives so clearly spelled out across the curves of lip, cheek, and bone. Sometimes, these people and this place make me want to weep, laugh, dance, grieve, and sing, all in a single moment. India’s beauty lies in its vulnerabilities and its inability to hide them, these blatant truths that are laid out for all to see. There is no hiding here—everything is on display, ready to be touched, felt, observed, noticed. India is intoxicating, like a perfume that leaves your head spinning and your heart pounding, and already I have fallen in love with this land on the other side of the world.