ON RETURN FROM THE USA/CANADA 3:12pm |
And back in New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, ah! The energy of India hits me like a tornado run amuck a million times over. Suddenly, India emerges like mad ecstatic leviathan from the seas, hair floating, horns blaring, people jostling to force one another out, vehicles screaming for no reason, there are horns where there is none to listen to them , there are cows and dogs and even cats running a wild show on what is known as the Grand Trunk Road. In incredibly overcrowded trains, where five fit in into a space built for one, where there is hardly space enough for everyone to breathe, up comes a beggar-singer, calmly breaking into a song which no one will care to listen and yet none will dare to ignore. Next stop: three vendors, selling twelve knives and scissors for the price of one --- and with that a comb, a toy monkey, a needle set, a thread reel and cake of soap free (without haggling) ---India! Three pretty young girls, all clad in divinely spotless white school uniform walk blissfully across the busy inner ring road, gloriously unmindful of a multitude of speeding vehicles screeching to a halt, unmindful of the oh-so-angry looks on the faces of the vehicle owners. Where there are red lights; they do not function for someone for some reason chose to smash them last night – so the busy square is kept busier because the only way to find one's way to is to play a war of nerves … keep pushing without allowing the eyes of the others guys to meet yours, pretending you have seen nothing on the other side. Everyone gets away with it because everyone is doing it. And yes a policeman ---India's most powerful symbol of legislature, executive and judiciary rolled into one -- stands with his back to the great drama of the Indian excitement. There are rules to be broken, there are laws to be mocked and there nearly 100 crore human minds ready to smash anything even remotely reminiscent of law and order to pieces with a vengeance which only the spiteful Indian gods or their Greek counterparts know how to inflict. Turn the page: there is a beggar woman, persistently knocking at the your car window, not even expecting you to respond, but not bothering to let that dishearten her. She has two little, dirty kids, their noses flowing into their mouths, flung on each side of her, and both have a look in their eyes which tells you they wouldn't be bothered one way or the other about their mother's efforts to salvage something for them. These beggars irritate you, and yet they are the only test god will put your charity to…nay, not charity but your love. Smile at one of the children and both will smile back. There are loudspeakers at religious shrines belonging to different communities , crying loudly into each other's throat claming proximity to God they do not believe in. All this disorder, this riot of directionless energy, this unabashedly selfish race to get ahead, trampling over all norms, all laws, all rules and regulations ----this is what hits you.
This is what you see of India if you do not have eyes to see anything else. And yet this defiant disorder, this indefinable force run wild, this lack of discipline, this proud refusal to be civilized , this persistence with a way of life which everybody knows is silly and yet which no one will be found coward enough to abandon –this is my homeland.
Then there is this gloriously competing hot summer sun which leaves bodies sweltering, sweating, smelling foul . And what they call this "blistering heat"! I pretend not to notice it becasue thats what I have been doing with this heat each summer since my childhood -- play hide and seek with it, test my naked feet (tender at that time) by running a full stretch of burning sandy path on the way back from school. This heat loved the blisters on my feet, and I loved surviving each summer without ever being deterred from flying my kites from atop godforsaken dilapidated buildings, till someone elder in the family would come and slap me right across the face and take me home. Summer would smile at my plight, and I would smile back at her the next noon, quitely, triumphantly declaring ,"I am back." There were no air conditioners then to spoil this love affair with heat. And there were more kites in the skies and in my eyes than there were fears in any bosom.
India, where the only way to read is between the lines, where the only invitation to sanity is to join the madness – this land full of paradoxes, ironies, contradictions, oxymoron . This land alone has the credentials to represent God -- in all His wild unpredictability and His mocking refusal to be understood. India will be understood the way God is: surrender yourself at His feet, and He will be yours. Look not for petty virtues like consistency, orderliness, system, discipline or such like . These are virtues by which the weal swear and live – the weak who lack the heart to welcome the cyclonic flux of particles, all flying in all directions, seemingly flying into eternity. India is the Kubla Khan of the Universe. And Kubla Khan lived in : " the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
" A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And whoever beholds India will let out a cry..
" Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of paradise."
India, who would die rather than be understood. Isn't it like you and me? Turn your gaze within your bosom , and each one will see an India there. But how many have the courage to live that frenzy.? India has. Have you?
COMMENTS BY FACEBOOK MEMBERS
Timmy Kamboj, Sahil Agnihotri, Jugraj Dhillon Sohi and 2 others like this.
Gurbrinder Singh Anand SAYS " a perfect 'write up'. i say this not cos its come out of some well established ,high profile officer but i say this cos this 'piece' has its proximity to each one of us ,here in india.i feel the agony and your helplessness to set things in order .this piece reminds me of Newton.he was not the first person to see an apple falling to the ground but ... See Morehe was surely the one who made a 'law' which we all follow today . so its time for people like u sitting at high places and for us working at the ground level ,to set things right.
your style of writing reminded me of 'khaled hosseini'.for some this comment may seem more like blandishing but wot ever i stated comes from the heart. sometimes u come across such beautiful articles or works which u wish doesn't end. this 'piece'is definately one of those for me.
Jagvinder Singh Chattha i am glad that you are back into our beloved land, but we do miss you dearly back home - here in the States. Things that we couldn't express, are well written by you in this wonderful note. As i was reading it, it took me back to times whenever i visit India.