Honestly, it is a little too much and I feel overwhelmed. For a while now, my life has been rearranging itself. I’m all for that and most of the time I feel incredibly grateful. I got a new job at a place I have been wanting to work at for a long time and in just a few weeks my apartment will be inhabited by only me, which is going to be another great improvement. Also, I’m going back to school for my Masters and looking forward to hopefully spending the winter floating around the Pacific. I have nothing at all to bitch about.
Still I feel sad.
The reason for that is that all this rearranging has swept through the relationships of my life as well. It is perfectly natural, I know that and would choose moving forward over life support any day. It can just be a little overwhelming when everything seems to happen at the same time. A couple of very important people are no longer in my life. They were important for different reasons just as they are now missing for different reasons. There has been no drama, no slamming doors – just a series of realizing that we seemed to have come to the end. I wish it could have been different, that we could have walked through life together just a little further but it became quite obvious that we probably couldn’t.
Until now, I have focused on trusting my path, trying to keep faith in that the bigger picture will reveal itself at some point. Following my heart, I know it is all good. I know that this too shall pass.
I just wish I didn’t feel so damn lonely.
It’s not like I’m literally all alone now, I have great friends and a wonderful family – but the solitude of this incarnation has become a little more noticeable.
I guess it’s an existential condition, maybe one day I will get used to it.
Chandigarh gave me just the break I really really needed and nourished me back to my balanced self – some had to do with the non-touristy feel to the city and a lot had to do with my wonderful host. I ended up staying there for 4 days, got some good nights sleeps and some long talks about life and love (what else is there to talk about).
It was a couple of strange days, very conscious about being fragile but on a deeper level very clear and in touch with my heart and I gained some profound insights.
Just one day was very difficult – I was pretty much crying the whole day and of course that was the day I had chosen for sightseeing. Others might have postponed playing tourist but I was pretty damn determined that I was going to see the damn sights. So I went to the Rose Garden – it’s a park and there’s a lot of roses.
And I went to the Rock Garden – it’s a big park build like a fantasy out of rocks, very surreal and kind of cool. At the Rock Garden I almost broke down though – it’s hard enough to feel like shit but when you have an audience at all times, it really does add to the challenge. At one point an entire family is following me and I just know that they want a picture. Earlier that day I had said no for the first time when someone asked me if they could take my picture, I really wasn’t up for it. So this family follows me while talking loudly together and one of the men then starts calling me. I should just have kept walking but I turn around and he asks if they can take my picture and I apologize and says no. As soon as I have said that, several of them takes out their cameras and goes paparazzi on me. It was very uncomfortable. I get so angry and shout at them, which doesn’t impress them at all and then I walk off, immediately starts crying but keeps walking and misses out of quite a bit of the fantasy due to very blurry vision.
After that experience I was pretty exhausted but also wanted to see the lake. It’s an artificial lake and for some reason I thought it would be tranquil and with some beautiful nature relaxation. It was not. Maybe because it was Valentines Day or maybe because it was India, there was loud music, boat rides and a million people. I tried to just stay in my own quiet zone but honestly, it’s hard when people are giving you so much attention and photographing you when they think you don’t notice. I felt like the loneliest person in the world – or the loneliest animal in the zoo.
Well, I did survive and went to the university to meet with Soniya. Waiting for her, I spent some time in the university rose garden. I was walking around smelling all the different kinds of roses and at one point I took just one step out into the dirt to reach a really beautiful one. It turned out that they had just watered that section and so my left foot got completely drowned in mud – it looked great :)
I found Soniya and we got into her car and started driving – and I started crying – again. What a day. We had decided to go watch a Bollywood movie – you can’t go to India without having a Bollywood experience and it really turned out to be a perfect way to escape reality for a while. The movie was in hindi of course but the plot is so simple and they use a lot of English words so I had no trouble following. Bollywood is so cheesy and pretty cool!
I guess that day was another turning point, cleaning out some old to make room for some new. The next day I had clarity and balance and connection with my heart and was ready to move forward.
On Thursday the 16th I had decided to leave for the mountains and so after a day at home being cozy and taking care of some practical stuff I went to the bus terminal to catch the bus to Dharamsala. It’s an 8 hour ride in an old Volvo bus. Not really luxury but the seats does recline – mine was a little broken so that was actually the only thing it could do, be reclined. I had brought snacks and my iPod was charged but I hadn’t realized the falling temperature. Some of the windows were a little broke and as we ascended, the temperature descended and I kept pulling stuff out of my backpack to wrap and cover myself with. We arrived around 3am and thank god I happened to know someone who was there for the weekend so I got picked up at the bus terminal and had a place to crash and didn’t have to be bothered with finding a place until next day.
So I’m in India.. My first impression is that I love it. Or I did love it. Or hopefully I still love it..
It’s dirty, noisy, dusty, smelly and most of all chaotic beyond anything I’ve experienced before. And that’s all good, that’s the part I love. I’ve been soaking up all the millions of impressions that hit me every minute, trying to keep up with this hurricane of life here.
I’ve already met a lot of people, done some sightseeing, shopped a little and went to a movie screening about Varanasi, another place I want to visit here. And it’s just been 3 days.
The thing is, the attention I get is overwhelming. Walking down the street, everybody will stop what they’re doing to look at me instead. Some will join me and ask questions and even change their own direction in order to follow me and on the metro I’m being studied head to toe. I’ve tried to be fair to everyone, placing myself in the middle so no-one was cheated from the sight of me :P The metro is so fortunately planned here that the two front cars are for women only – we can see all the way down through the train though and thus the men can see us as well, and the mens section is crowded.
With this being the center of attention, I haven’t met any real hostility and no bad things has happened but I’ve come to notice the difference in how I’m being looked at, how I’m being met.
The majority I’m pretty sure don’t even see me. They see a tourist, a wealthy European, a white person, a blonde woman, a person they want something from. My money, my time, my love, they just want what I have maybe without knowing what that is, if there even is something to have.
On the opposite side there’s the people who demonstratively are letting me know that they don’t want anything from me. They will look at me and when I notice, they will hold my look for just a couple of seconds and then dismiss my presence with a kind of arrogant attitude. I don’t meet as many of them but when I do the impact is equally challenging to digest.
And then there’s the few who meet me as who I am. Just another human being who happens to cross their path, not yet determined, not yet labeled. They meet my eyes with openness, with curiosity, sometimes with a slight indifference but as soon as we look at each other, I’m being recognized as being me. Nothing more, nothing less. A person who holds all the potential of being either a friend or an enemy or of simply continuing to be a complete stranger. But right in that moment, neither of us know and we simply recognize each other as part of the same family, just human beings who happens to share a brief moment. Whenever it happens, it makes me feel incredibly grateful.
We all do this all the time. We label each other. We put a limit to the truth about the people we meet and by that we limit our world, the potential of our lives.
Even though this is something I’ve been aware about for a long time, experiencing it so intensely here in India has really put it into perspective.
Yesterday it made me sick, literally. I got the worst headache (still have it) and nausea and I was so exhausted and drained that I went home around 4.30pm and then hid out in the safety of my room for the rest of the day,
feeling so alone and sad. All I wanted to do was escape, get out of the city and go somewhere secluded and safe from all the people.
I still want to escape but today I’m going to meet the world again and try to see if I can somehow turn it around. I need to find a way to protect myself without running away. To not let the attention drain me. To allow myself to continue being me.
Wish me luck!
PS – Here’s my neighborhood in Delhi