Monday, June 7, 2010

Seeing

Our trip to Delhi! So wonderful to get a chance to be tourists and get a real flavor for the culture. I got to see the India I've always had in my mind. We left the campus at 4 A.M. Friday all dressed in our not-so-formfitting genie pants to fly to Delhi. The airline we used was called Spicejet, which we all loved. Grabbed cookies at a little shop which turned out had to last us another 12 hours. Would have grabbed the whole cookie jar had I known! We were just too busy shopping and seeing the winding back streets of Old Delhi riding on rickshaws.
For a second I thought I was in Paris...
video
I finally bought my sari! It is so gorgeous. I have to have my top tailored so no photos yet, but they will come. We found the shop in one of the side streets.
We took our shoes off at the door and were led upstairs to a room covered in padded white floors, walls lined with stacks of fabric, and men lounging on the floor drinking tea. The tailor wrapped Kennedy in our choice of fabric in front of floor to ceiling mirrors. It was amazing how fast and perfectly he could wrap it. I watched close, so I'm pretty sure I got it. No part of the fabric is sewn except the little shirt.
Grabbed some popsicles made from fruit, nuts, and some pepper spice. Good cus it was cold and new, but probably wouldn't be a hot item in the states.
After finishing up with walking through the oldest temples in Old Delhi (a tour none of us actually understood because the old man's accent was so thick we just nodded our heads and smiled to each other) we stopped at Pizza Hut and never thought we'd been so happy to see American food. Sad.
Five hours to Agra. Our group is so small we really have fun together, so the time was fun. Snacked on our pizza as we told stories and laughed, then people started to sleep.
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When it got all dark outside I turned on some calm music and while everyone fell asleep, I looked out my window and just watched the people, feeling my mind and heart change; everything I see teaches and affects me faster than I feel I can learn.

There's something about evening times driving through the streets of a foreign place that is very calming to me. Drowning out the horns and loud noises of the streets, it's easier for my mind and heart to see the people and not be distracted by everything else. We drove past one area where old apartments made of concrete had walls and roofs crumbling down and I could see into the homes. I could see people cooking, washing laundry and pots, and sitting just watching back out at the world. I had this overwhelming feeling, like pressure on your heart. There are so many people in this world. My Grandma Rowan said something once that I wrote down and have thought of many times. Nothing earth-shattering, but I can still hear her voice in my head saying, "My there are a lot of people in this world I don't know!" So true. But it always amazes me to think that my Father in Heaven knows them individually. He knows their joys, sorrows, culture, concerns, and lives in depths and ways I could and will never know.
When He looks into their eyes, he sees them.
I love that I get to see the world even when it's not always beautiful. I love the culture and the flavors of new sights, sounds, and foods. But I hate seeing the poverty and feeling the mental race my mind goes through as I try to process everything I see and feel. I hate that children don't have parents. I hate seeing people in rags, sleeping in dirty corners and living in scrap metal huts. And I hate that I feel at such a loss as to how to help such a worldwide problem. I wish I had a way to help the people not have to work so hard for so little. I wish little children weren't begging on the streets, beaten by parents to make them more pitiful looking to earn sympathy money. I wish I could look everyone in the eye and give them the confidence, love and power that comes from knowing who you really are and the divine potential for strength and greatness they have.
But my many opportunities to travel while still so young have taught me that wishing for these things is an important part of experiencing a new culture. When you're able to spend time with and care for people, you find that you've inadvertently opened your heart to seeing and feeling not only the beautiful but also the ugly.
When you've seen the smiles, the tears are that much harder to see. When you've held the perfect hands of a child, holding the damaged hands of a leper are that much more blatant. And when you've played with the lucky few children in a school yard, the poor and dirty begging children in the street are that much harder to brush off.

There was one boy in particular I remember from the street. He was in a red shirt walking on all fours because of an obvious deformity to his left leg. Certain images stay with you for some reason. I can still see him in my mind as I looked down to my left; seeing his hands on the pavement, one reaching up to beg as he craned his neck to look into my face. I thought, "What an unfair way to spend childhood."
Made invisible by the visibility of his difference.
He is so easily brushed aside down in the dirt where all you have to do is keep your head up and pretend not to see him...because it's hard to see him. But he's there. And I couldn't resist looking him in the eye, saying hello, and asking how he was so maybe, for a second, he wouldn't feel quite so invisible.
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It can be an exhausting roller coaster of emotions through the day. One moment you are practically singing because the colors of the culture are everywhere around you and you can't believe how beautiful the places of the world are. Then the next moment you wish you were blind so you couldn't see the difficult images that wrap around your heart and compress until it hurts.
I've always wanted to come to India and I never had a reason why. Thought it might have been because of the fabrics, beads and colorful things that this culture is saturated with. But since coming here, there have been a thousand and one times I've seen or felt something where I've thought, "That's why. That's why I've felt drawn to India." And more often than not, those moments have everything to do with people, really seeing the people, and little to do with the 'things' of this land.

~~Taj Mahal post below~~

5 comments:

  1. What an adventure, you are so blessed.

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  2. Your final thoughts echo familiar feelings of my own. The way you express them brings me to tears. I still don't understand how the Lord will and does figure this all out...but I know He will.

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  3. Lovely and poignant. People are central to our Heavenly Father's plan, no? Not beads and colors and culture as beautiful as they make the world. I also know how it is to think of a place on a map and think of eyes and hearts and laughter rather than structures and geography and souvenirs. I've read about poverty tourism and how people make trips like yours just as a personal reminder these things. I imagine you can see the value of that now.

    Have you read "City of Joy"? Now you must.

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  4. Goodness, I have to make sure I read your posts at night so it doesn't matter where the mascara ends up :) Beautiful!

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  5. Your thoughts are so beautifully written Annie...such a tender post for you to share with us.

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