Today, we leave for India.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched a couple Bollywood movies – Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kuch Naa Kaho, my two favourites – as well as “A Hundred Foot Journey”, “Million Dollar Arm”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, and “Slumdog Millionaire”.
I’m ready for India! What am I saying? One can never truly be ready for India.”Don’t lose patience. You are going to need it in India.” (Million Dollar Arm) “First rule of India: there’s always room.” (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) We’re about to find out once we land in Kolkata!
I am about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with two of my closest friends. India by definition is an adventure. Entering ourselves in a race where we are driving an auto-rickshaw 2,500 km from one end of Northern India to the other, is something far more than an adventure. It could be sheer madness. “I don’t know if I’m excited or terrified. Sometimes it seems to me that the difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.” (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) This sounds a bit like what I imagine driving through the cities of India will feel like.
I thought of why I am entering my two buddies and I in this race. I’ve got some excuses and a ton of reasons, some make more sense than others, though I am not implying any of them make any sense at all at this very moment or maybe any moment. “If not now, when? If not us, who?” (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) Didn’t JFK say that too? Or was it Ronald Reagan?
That seems like as good a reason as any. Or maybe an excuse. Perhaps even better is “Never be afraid of trying something new, Hassan. Very important. It is the spice of life.” (A Hundred Foot Journey) This adventure is most definitely something new.
India is a country full of contradictions, more hectic than you could ever imagine, and quite certainly not for the faint of heart. “Can there be anywhere else in the world that is such an assault on the senses? Those who know the country of old just go about their business. But nothing can prepare the uninitiated for this riot of noise and color. For the heat, the motion; the perpetual teeming crowds.” (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Everything that happens in India happens at her own pace, sometimes at her place and most certainly in her own time.
And that’s one of the main things I’ve learned during my visits there – in 1982, 1988, 1991, 1997, 2006 and 2014 (none of which did I drive an auto-rickshaw though I’ve been in one plenty of times). Indian Standard Time is a real thing. “There is no present like the time.” (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) That’s a great way to look at time; it’s the gift we continually give to ourselves should we choose to do so. What we do with that gift is also of our choosing. For the next month, we will be in Kolkata, Varanasi, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Bodh Gaya, Darjeeling, Shillong before heading back to Kolkata to head back home.
So for anyone potentially worried about this epic adventure, I leave you with this… “In India, we have a saying… Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end.” (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
So are we ready for this epic adventure? For this epic life?
Yes? Of course!
“No, but maybe it’s written, no?” (Slumdog Millionaire)
Yes, indeed. India, here we come!
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ALWAYS BE EPIC.
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