Today I leave India. Hard to describe the mixed feelings, the urge to hit the road and the thought of what I lived in this country.
The country that lets itself be loved like few others, but also insists on slapping you in the face with the hand of reality. So surreal at some points, so hypnotic at others, and so painfully real at the same time. There’s intensity that taught me a lesson on how open your mind should be. A country where a chai salesman can be a friend, where the sheer curiosity of its people is rewarded with your own curiosity for their culture—in a reciprocal manner, it all comes together, the circle is complete.
Sights of poverty and human misery are bisected with so much humanity, so much generosity, so much will to live and survive. A country in constant mutation and striking contrasts in landscape, values, creeds, and ways that are hard to follow at some points, with so much entering your perception. From the Tungareshwar Temple babas smoking and talking on their Blackberry phones to the pragmatic rush of the businessman from Pune, all share a placidity when they go to pray. Nothing seems to be linear, nothing seems absolute.
Understanding India is as futile as finding the sun at night. Unlike any other place I’ve been, this is a country to feel, to take a deep breath and sense, and it will all come to you. Out of all this contrast and shapeshifting, there’s something that sweeps the whole country: life. From the urging streets of Mumbai to the flocks of faith in the temples, from the human octopuses that live in restaurants and serve you food to the myriad of birds that chirp like sopranos in the morning, life is raw and there for you to observe. Not always pretty, but always fascinating.
João Pires is a sociologist. He studied the subject at University of Lisbon, Portugal, and to this day he finds the curious, somewhat outsider view of the sociologist to be his own. He is also a host, if there ever was one. For the last four years João has worked at Traveller’s House hostel in Lisbon. For João, traveling is not just about locations and sights, but about immersing oneself into a culture, about getting to know the people and their habits, all those little things that give color and life to a destination. All places breathe, they have a pulse, and it is up to the traveler to feel the beat. Being out of your comfort zone, absorbing and questioning the world around you, is the point of traveling. http://worldstroll.wordpress.com
© 2014 João Pires