Sunday, January 20, 2008


Of late I have been really missing India. I used to go every couple years and spend months there, it was usually in the summer when the weather was hot and humid. The summer months would be spent with me sitting in a pool of my own sweat while I was assaulted by dozens of tiny blood sucking insects, and no I don't mean lawyers, I am referring to mosquitoes. On top of that I would usually get sick for a week or so because I love/loved street food. See in India, the best food you can eat is the food made on the street by small time vendors. The food was simply the best food you can eat anywhere. Who can resist the taste of food cooked in the finest bacteria infested water, mixed with human sweat and dirt from the street. I personally believe that those ingredients add the je ne sais quoi to the taste. Once you have the street food, you will constantly crave it like a good addict craves crack. It is simply put some of the most amazing food one can eat.

I would constantly be traveling in the summer while in India, usually on family temple tours. We would spend about 10-20 days going from city to city visiting vast, ancient and extravagent temples, usually of the Vishnu persuasion. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from those trips. There is something wonderous about being able to see the top of a temple towering over large and densely populated trees, as if it is an divine establishment in the midst of lush greenery. Some of these temples were built into the top of a mountainside where we would trek up the mountain then have to enter into small crevices to finally get into the sanctum sanctorum. Then as you enter into the sanctum, it is usually a very solemn and dark place lit by only lights of a lamp that are placed to highlight the deity, who is adorned with the finest clothes and jewelery that money can buy. The light from the lamps reflects off the gold and diamonds that drape the deity and adds an inherent glow, highlighting the sacredness of the location and the deity. Some of these temples are becoming more and more like tourist attractions but a few of them truly inspire and pervade you with pure spirituality and a sense of communion with the unknown. A sense of oneness with nature and the universe would also accompany you, especially in the peaks of the Himalayas, with the flowing Ganga or Yamuna, where great beings found communion with all that was, is and will be, but my experiences there are another post and a later part of my life.

If I went to India during winter, most of my days would be spent going to music concerts all day because that is the season of the Chennai Music Festival, where all the best carnatic musicians in the country and world come together and perform concerts every day. Its a time of immersing myself into a world that I rarely get to fully enjoy and a culture that only exists for me on my ipod. There is nothing quiet like being at a concert when you can actually observe the musician making music on the spot as they get lost in the moment. India in the winter is also India without the mosquito invasion and the sultry humidity of the sub-continent.

India, at any time is one of the most amazing places on this planet because it is living contradiction, it is the ancient and modern world converging into the same place. You will see a brand new mercedes hybrid racing down the street along side a man riding a bullock cart with wheels that are about the fall off. A high paid industrialist will be eating alongside an Vedic priest who still lives in the mentality of 3000 years ago. Democracy meets Dharma, Capitalism and Karma converge. Superman posters will be all over the city while statutes and idols of Hanuman are found on every street corner and tower over neighborhoods. India is where my soul resides and I miss it dearly.

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