Thunderstruck

I opened my eyes and we were in India. India! Three days in and I am still speechless. B. keeps asking me how I feel, or what I think, and I haven’t been able to put my thoughts and feelings into words yet. Even after all the places we’ve been on this trip and everything we’ve seen, I’m speechless. The first thing I can say is to get through our time in India my skin will have to quickly develop a hard protective outer shell. The poverty alone is enough to cripple you emotionally for the rest of your life. I never thought when my heart broke at the sight of the street kids in Cambodia that there was worse, but here it is. India is everywhere else we’ve been magnified by one thousand. The filth, the garbage, the colors, smells and noise! I keep my eyes peeled wide open when walking down the street. Not doing this would mean getting hit by some form of vehicle, stepping on a child, dog, or adult lying on the sidewalk. Each frame is being sped up, your mind sees, thinks, and feels in fast forward. Full speed ahead, move or get run over. Take it in before it disappears. I don’t have a comfort zone or any idea what my limits are now. The market in Kolkata could be mistaken for Dr. Frankenstein’s cellar, if it had never been cleaned. We had the pleasure to be walking around the market stuck behind a herd of goats on their way to the slaughterhouse. One of the goats, too intelligent not to be aware of his imminent fate, was leaving a trail of diarrhea for us to follow. Great. That’s exactly what this place needs, more gross smells. We’ve been to markets all over Southeast Asia and have seen every dead animal and its body parts as fresh as can be, displayed with a halo of flies encompassing it. I thought nothing could shock me at this point. Wrong. Needless to say I’ve stopped eating meat, again.

Sitting in the train station my nostrils overloaded with the stench of urine. The only other time I can remember smelling piss this strong was when I had gone too long without changing the cat litter. India is an assault on all of your senses, and I’m presently being assaulted. Before I can finish one thought, it’s already time to react to something else. Is there really more, has it not been quite enough for one day? With this many people around nothing ever, STOPS! India feels the furthest away from home out of all the places we’ve been and I’m not talking about distance. Along with the poverty, the other thing tugging at my heart are the dogs. They are a gigantic problem here. It’s unbearable to see them treated like disease infested pests but unfortunately most of the time, that’s what they are. These poor, dirty, hairless babies are almost always homeless and very, very hungry. On our second night here already in shock, we witnessed a man beating a dog with a stick… I did not make a sound for the rest of the night. Silence… I know these things happen at home. I don’t want them to happen anywhere, ever. My silence was a prayer. Please make all of this pain in the world stop! It’s unnecessary, we don’t NEED it anymore.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Threefold peace in body, speech and mind. I close my eyes & meditate, ”Om Shanti” under my mosquito net, first thing in the morning in Kolkata, India.

F.

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