The Long Way Home

Agra, India, 2006
India’s dirty. There’s no two ways about it. The majority of it stems from the fact there’s no irrigation system. Shit flows in the “canals” linking the streets. It rains and the streets flood and people walk right through it and kids play like ti’s the public swimming pool they never had. Secondly, no matter the direction your eyes turn, you’ll inevitably see some Indian man – either standing or squatting – pissing in the street. In Jaipur, we even saw two boys shitting together on the side of the street like it was something they met up for each say, “Same time, same place tomorrow?”, I imagined one saying to the other. And lastly, everyone litters. Hidden treasures lie all over the place – old matchboxes, candy wrappers, corn husks… J keeps referring to it as “art”. I haven’t gon so far just yet, but it’s probably the rancid smell of piss that’s taking away from the museum feel.
But that’s India and certainly not all India has to offer. It’s a country of extremes, really. Polar opposites. I say this because it’s also one of the most, if not THE most colorful countries. India’s also home to one of merely seven world wonders. The Taj speaks for itself. But Agra, home to the Taj is quite it’s polar opposite. Walking down the polluted road that leads to it is like walking through the gates of hell only to end up before the gates of heaven. It’s hot, for starters. Sweat drips off your body and clings to your clothes and then you pass through the entrance and turn a corner and before you lies this “dream of marble” you yourself had only dreamed of during class, flipping through the history book pages in search of that one picture that could hold your attention and conquer the urge to close your eyes. Part of myself had already been there.
India is also part owner of the great Himalayan mountain range. And once again, you have to tolerate hell to appreciate heaven. Take a 25 hour bus ride with no toilet, dirty seats, dusty floors, no air con, busted fans, dirt and bug infested, baby crying, brakes squeaking on a winding road with cows crossing and Pakistani army men lining the street and one may have a portion of the truth I speak of. Be it what it may, but it’s not about how you get there but rather where you arrive at that’s important. The Himalayas stand in the distance and it’s like God dropped a huge backdrop and made your life his movie. I’d do it again, even if I had to ride a bike there.
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