The End of India

Trip Start Oct 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 19, 2006

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Friday, March 17, 2006

It's now 3 months and 2 weeks since I arrived in India, a little poorly & more than a little wet behind the ears. Yep, I'll admit it - I was slightly fazed by the challenge ahead of travelling on my own, through this great but daunting country.
From the first, though, India has amazed and delighted me. It has also challenged, educated, shocked, and enlightened me, and inexorably, has found a permanent place in my heart. It hasn't always been easy - and that is more true of North India than of the languid South - but I think I've enjoyed the experience all the more for that.

Above anything else, the people - both locals and fellow travellers - are what have made India unforgettable. I have been gifted countless smiles & endless handshakes, have talked voluminously on the fortunes of both the Indian and New Zealand cricket teams (thus providing prima facie proof that the universal language here is in fact a ready smile and detailed knowledge of Rahul Dravid's off-drive), and have met travellers who I know will be friends for as many years as the memories of India will last.

It's my final day here, and I've taken myself down to the beach town of Kovalam. Trivandrum has been a little overwhelming for the last two days, and it's a relief to get out of the city. So, yet again, I find myself looking out across the ocean, inevitably my gaze begins to track north-west, towards the Arabian coast lying hidden behind the horizon. Tomorrow I fly out to Sri Lanka, and a few days later I'll be disembarking in Egypt, for the final stanza of this trip.
In the meantime, I'm comfortably ensconced at The German Bakery cafe here, drinking a refreshing tea fizz (cold tea, lime, soda, and fresh mint leaves) and reveling in a menu that, with wonderful droll humour, offers a French Breakfast" of "croissant, cafe au lait, and cigarette". Jean Genet would approve.

A lot of people, and I've met some of them, come here to India hoping to find spiritual enlightenment or some karmic simulacrum of themselves, and thus imagine themselves to be on some sort of new-age pilgrimage. They try to force spirituality upon themselves, or themselves upon spirituality, indulging in holy hash, living in Pushkar or Varanasi, not showering/shaving/changing clothes for 6 months, in the belief that, in India at least, cleanliness is NOT next to godliness. They are mistaken...and smelly.
Arriving in India to look for something is missing the point. What's important, and how you will find what you are looking for, is just coming here, and indulging in the day-to-day interactions between you and the living, breathing entity that is India. It can take a while, but one day it just hits you, and you realise that all of sudden you feel totally at peace and at ease here, you've found the groove, the back-beat, that silent harmony of India. You've found, without even trying, the spiritual centering or sense of balance that others are so desperately seeking. India is the journey, and just being here will change you. And it's been a pleasure...

Anyway, it's time to goodbye from India, and good bye for now.

Oh, and Happy St Patrick's Day to you all! (Somebody please send me a cold Guinness!)

Lots of love
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