I woke up this morning with a sentence reverberating in my head from a two-day-old conversation with someone close to me (genetically-speaking). At such times, my mind has a built in digital delay. I hear the remark later, sometimes years later, and then the what-the-fuck kicks in when it’s too late to say, “Hang on. What?” Growing up in a seen-but-not-heard-and-if-you-can-manage-it-not-seen-is-even-better household has left behind vestigial failsafes.
“India’s not a good place to go.”
That was the remark. I know, right?
To add context, this person had recently seen photographs of my transformative trip to India, where I met, taught, and was taught by a group of young Delhi-ites at the NGO Magic Bus. Where I spent time with Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and an extraordinary group of cancer survivors – American and Indian both. Where I was privileged to dip my toe into one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations. Where I saw the sun rise over the Taj Mahal.
India, with hundreds of thousands of moving vehicles and camels and cows and carts, but no discernable traffic laws, yet not a single accident that I saw, because drivers aren’t too self-important to allow one another to merge.
I am not naïve. I saw the darkness and corruption there, too. All of it moved me to become a better person.
In fact, the only so-so day I had was the last one, which I spent hermetically-sealed behind locked gates and crack security in a five-star hotel by the airport. Massage, long bath, hot shower, cable – meh.
“India is not a good place to go.”
While I realize that remark was a not-so-subtle backhand at my face, I have learned to see those coming and slip the punches. I get that I will never be seen or heard in certain circles (mostly just that one). I wish it were different, but to quote the great David Byrne, “Same as it ever was.” The good thing is, I made it to adulthood. I have a voice. I can go back to India again and again. I can see the whole world from the streets, and joy in it, and the luck I’ve had to meet people who have introduced me to an immutable truth: