November 7, 2010

Indescribable India

India is so complex. I've sat down several times to start a blog entry, and frankly, I just can't figure out how to blog about India without resorting to a bunch of cliches. Enough time has finally passed so I can stop fighting it and just start writing it. Friends have called it a beautiful headache for years. That's as good a summary as any. Or I could list a thousand opposites such as:
- so old (culture) and so young (ripping economy)
- so fun (auto rickshaw rides) and so sad (absolute poverty and human suffering)
- so hopeful (meeting with the India Green Coalition) and so depressing (rivers polluted to the point where nothing can live in it)
- so frustrating (every taxi or shopkeeper trying to rip off foreigners) and so welcoming (incredible kindness and generosity from strangers on a public bus)
As I've said before, "couldn't wait to get out of there, can't wait to go back." I think for many of you this may sound like gibberish. But for those of you who have been to India, you know exactly what I'm describing.

So, that's the best I can do for a blog entry. Here's one more written glimpse and a few photos to paint just a tiny fraction of our time in India. For the full-blown techno-color insanely blissful tragedy, you'll just have to visit!

One day we walked out of an air-conditioned mall to stumble upon a house-sized pile of garbage stinking in the sweltering heat. There amidst the excrement of the urban form was an exquisitely beautiful woman, tastefully wrapped in a beautiful Indian sari. What was she doing there? Her job. Picking through the garbage, without gloves, trying to sort out what might be reused or recycled from the rest of the rotting refuse. She seemed vital and bright, even in spite of the fact that she was eking out a meager existence in a context that was filthy, ugly, depressing and seemingly hopeless. Yea, that's India.

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Shore Temple at Mamalapurum
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Hindu stories carved in the rock
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Traffic jam, butts to bumper (a daily form of roadway congestion)
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Ryder as global ambassador at orphanage in Chennai
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Everyday is "Bike to School Day" in India
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Although I'd rather pretend to not see you, I can't bring myself to just look past you. You are just like me. You are me. But if I do look into those eyes, I have to confront the bitter juxtaposition of your beautiful soul, standing before the inner backdrop of my unquenchable guilt for having so much, amplified by the sobering reality of my personal impotence before it all.

Posted by rohwedde at November 7, 2010 4:44 PM