India - It is difficult to provide an introduction to a country that has been the cradle to one of the most ancient civilizations on the planet, provided the concept of zero, gave the world yoga, and not to mention spices!
What once existed as a natural geographical land mass, ‘Bharatvarsh’ or what is commonly referred now as the Indian sub-continent, protected from the wider world by the Himalayas and the Kirthar Sulaiman mountain ranges. The region had some amount of homogeneity until centuries of invasion, plunder and migration happened, creating what we witness today as ‘India’. Still holding steadfast to their way of life, re-inventing their art and clothing to make it relevant to the present era, Indians have been adept at adjusting and adapting, sometimes almost at their disadvantage.
Growing up, we were quite intrigued and often angry by the imagery presented by the western media, invariably with a lot of music, drums - almost building up a feeling of chaotic vibe! And that same narrative has continued to linger and has leaked into movies and documentaries.
However, being Indians, the lens through which we see it is different from someone who doesn’t belong to India or the Indian sub-continent. Whether it is just easy to present this imagery or if this is what others see, it is almost impossible to capture India in one image, or soundbite. This also extends to the perceived Hindu ‘spirituality’, which has changed forms and meaning through the centuries and through the constant mix of cultures, religions, and evolution of a different way of life. The staggering range of languages, dialects, food, music, dance forms, art can be experienced if you move from one state to another. In a country so huge and diverse, there can be migration issues between states who want to preserve their culture and keep their jobs for their people!
So, to experience India, it is indeed important to be ready to embrace all the experiences. Far from perfect, and far from predictable, India can be a journey of a lifetime, you can scratch the surface from the comfort of luxury hotels or go deep into the rural areas that exist with nature in perfect harmony, or live like a local for months, but the interesting part is that it takes an incredible amount of time, effort and travel to say you have visited India because visiting Kerala is nothing like visiting Manipur, and visiting Rajasthan is nothing like visiting West Bengal. So we are ‘trying’ and ‘trying’ is all we can do, to look at India with fresh eyes, eyes of a traveller, of an explorer and experience one place at a time, until we have the spark in our hearts and the energy in our body to travel, slowly but surely…