Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"My whole life's a circle,"

The Son

              Sunrise and sundown. I may not know where I'm going, but I do know where I have been. For the past two weeks I have had the honor of traveling with my mother and sister throughout India. They brought with them a feeling of home, and as we walk and talk together I feel that I am reconnecting with my origin, helping me to clarify my intention for the rest of my time in India. Traveling alone is extremely different from traveling with your mom and sis; there'll be no $2 sleeper trains across the country, no $3 dinners and certainly no $5 hotels...Oh no, for this kind of travel we will have to enable the "tourist bubble", and ensure western comforts are made available whenever possible.

              From Calcutta I traveled to New Delhi and randomly spent some time with the founders of an art collective known as Rumble Art. They provide an online platform for photographers in Delhi, and are looking to branch out into multiple mediums; if you're curious, click on this Link. I met my sister Rachel and m' momma Marie at the airport to escort them to our hotel. It wasn't long before I began to notice the increased level of attention we were receiving. Walking around in India with fair skin and brown hair I've gotten used to the stares, gawks and giggles that follow me wherever I go, but this was something new.

            At no point did I feel that we were in danger, I sensed a genuine curiosity from the onlooking locals and at times we would exchange a smile or a little head bobble. Rachel, the social butterfly, was happy to smile and wave to nearly everyone she saw, which often resulted in the inevitable questions: "Which country?", "What is your good name?" and of course, "One photo, please one photo." Again, this is common, although now I have been able to see the women openly express their interest and fascination in the traveling foreigner(s). In general, I have had very few passing interactions with women and young ladies, though with a bubbley blonde and a brilliant brunette, there was no end to the stream of giggling gals asking for pictures, and women having my mother hold their babies!

         We did the touristy sight seeing thing for a few days; Taj Mahal, Red fort, ancient tombs and such. Though we quickly discovered that we are more interested in faces than places, and started spending more time in parks and community gatherings as that is much more conducive to meeting people and having conversations. A friend of a friend invited us to stay with him in his home in Jaipur and we made a great connection. Having lived in the U.S for several years Srini was practically American, and more than able to accommodate our Western ways. Laxmi, the caretaker of Srini's home, was happy to meet us and even invited us to see her and her family's homes. This was a great opportunity for my mother and sister to see the real living conditions over here in India, and this experience was among the first attempts at bursting the tourist bubble.

        Despite the frequent shock and awe which my mother and sister exhibited throughout their time over here, they continued to fully embrace the people they met. At one point, while swimming in the Arabian Sea in Kerala, I noticed they had drifted from sight and much have wandered along the shore. As I went to investigate, I followed the unmistakable sound of my sister's laughter and came upon a small coupling of a few houses. I approached an open door and found the two of them surrounded by ladies of all ages feeding them cake, papaya and tea. They were all ecstatic! I hesitated to disturb, though once I caught the eye of one of the little girls, she shouted "Bhaya!" and everyone knew I must be the brother and they gave a warm welcome.

        Amma and Didi (mom n' sis) were really moved by what they have experienced, as they have expressed their wishes to stay connected with the families they have met during their travels. They have asked me about giving money to the mothers or sending school supplies to the children, and although I said that that would be appreciated, I assured them that by expressing compassion and acceptance they have already given so much more than anything that could be purchased. The three of us had many conversations about the state of the world, and the inequalities abound. I mostly expressed my belief that charity is good and helpful, though if any lasting change is to be made it must be in the form of something radical, not another "trickle down" method.

      We ended our time together in my current home; Hyderabad. We spent the first day at a Telugu culture festival (which we randomly happened upon), and enjoyed singing, dancing and some great south Indian cuisine (Rachel, of course stuck to her Coca-Cola and cheese pizza ;) ) The second day I showed them my stomping grounds on campus and where I've been working in the city. Nothing puts you in touch with your roots quite like family. Even if one does not fully agree with (or get along with) their family, it is important to accept them, as that is the first union, the first community, and the first love of this life. I love each of you, my beloved readers, and wish all of you a happy new year!

Granola Baba


  1. It's remarkable in a way to feel the warmth and affection although we can talk about from a colour perspective of our skin (as being fair , brown) but that's the uniqueness in India people are always curious to know about every new thing that's why although we have different religion , races and colours people are always feeling a desire to know more about others than their own ............that's why Indian people have a good habit of making a relationship with strangers because of this curiosity of trying to know the unknown than the known................................peace home . AMRESH