Before I visited India, mention of the country would bring up images of meditating, Buddha, zen stuff. My brief time in the cities seemed nothing like that.
However, in the rural area where I visited and spent the majority of my time, I saw this every day.
When waking at dawn every day, serene music played from the speakers in the open air court yard at Bijolai Palace. It was surreal to look out on the country side while hearing this foreign music and taking in the amazing sights. I really felt like I was in a faraway land.
The simple “Namaste” greeting became routine. I found myself placing my hands together and nodding my head downward while saying this without even thinking about it after only a couple of days in India. This word / phrase carries a lot of regard with very little fanfare.
The stone structures that house families and businesses in the villages are incredibly simple. A few have bright colors in the city, but on the country side, you see a lot of bland color. Since I visited during the dry month of December, the ground was dry and vegetation was scarce.
Dirt is everywhere. It blows around and is a part of the dry air. The simplicity of dirt everywhere struck me. Most homes had dirt floors. The schools where we stationed our vision clinics had dirt yards. Often the people who live there were mostly covered in dirt and did not seem to care.
In the midst of all of this blandness, one would see bright flashes of orange, pink, blue, and every color of the rainbow. The women wear bright, yet simple, attire that stands out in a land of brown and grey.
The villagers have very few possessions. A few pots could provide cooking and table wear purposes for everyone. When giving a child a sticker or a pencil, her eyes would look at you like you just gave her something much more than that. Some villagers had to be reminded to wear their new glasses rather than tucking them safely away. These interactions and more made me pause about how casually I regard all of my material possessions in comparison. (I will discuss my post trip feelings in future blog posts.)
I did my best to embrace simplicity while I was in India. When my mind wandered, I really tried to keep the wandering scope within India. I tried not to worry whether I had remember to pay all of my bills before I left the U.S. or think about how Percy and Jag were faring without me. I found it fairly easy to keep my head in India though, because random sightings would churn back around in my head all of the time.
I found myself to be an early morning person in India, largely due to the 11.5 hour time change. I embraced that quiet time each day to walk around the court yard, take in the music and scenery, and process the awesomeness that is found in the simple things.