It's my last week in India...time really flew by!
It's an incredible country, full of contradictions and opposites that somehow manage to reconcile in an harmonic unity. I believe that what makes this incredible diversity appear as different facets of the same whole is both a very strong tolerance and a spirituality that permeates even the most common daily actions. I wasn't surprised when I read that the millions of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are seen as different manifestations of the same underlying reality. It really shows in the genuine tolerance Indians have towards each others' beliefs.
Even I, believe it or not, could experience a strong sense of spirituality! I spent the past two months reading stuff like "Conversations with God", "The Art of Happiness", "the Tao of Physics" and the like. One can breathe spirituality in the air. Some places like Pushkar or Varanasi "feel" holy as soon as one steps in.
On the other hand, India is undeniably messy, chaotic and disorganised. When something is missing (which happens more often than not, especially with electricity, hot water and some types of food) Indians look at you with a candid smile and say:"This is India", with the result that, as by magic, you no longer mind. The traffic is bad beyond belief (both in terms of craziness and safety) to the point that I wondered every night how I could have survived another day.
I found Indian people either very open, kind and somehow naturally wise, with faces that reflect genuine goodness or really frightening people with very threatening looks. Thank God I didn't experience many of the second kind, but when I did (especially in Jaipur and Haridwar) I ran away as soon as practically possible. Not a good feeling! Generally speaking though Indians are very welcoming and very interested in the travellers' country and culture (significantly, when you book a hotel they are not interested in your surname, just your name and the country you come from).
They were generally quite shocked with me as a woman travelling on her own is an alien concept to them. Women look at me with amazement and pity when I tell them that I'm not married. You can see in their eyes questions like: what's wrong with you?, are you normal?, or what horrible secrets are you hiding? It's obvious that men think I must be an easy prey, but they are never persistent when they realise that I am not after all.
Overall the past couple of months have been very chilled, very serene and very introspective. I realised how much time I invested in professional development and social life in the past few years and how little in spiritual development (by which I do not mean anything trascendental, only food for soul, so to speak) and I promised myself to try and find a good and healthy balance when I'm back.
In a few days I'll be on my way to Nepal (24 hours bus journey, God help me!) to meet my father. Look forward to it...after solitary introspection it will be good to have some human interaction with a familiar face!