Sunday, September 6, 2009

Almost 6 months in India

September 6, 2009
I truly can’t believe that mid-September will mark six months for me living in New Delhi. Time just seems to pass so rapidly, although I’m living every day the fullest and maybe that is exactly the reason. The magic continues to occur, as I’m now growing a watermelon out of my Ashoka tree. How this happened I’m not really sure, but one day a vine appeared and soon there was a watermelon. I know that I do spit out my watermelon seeds all over my deck and so a few must have landed in the Ashoka tree pot. Regardless, I just can’t wait to taste this baby melon. (This takes me back to Lancaster, PA when I worked in the fields of Ruth and Wilmer, Mennonite farmers, Ruth being about 59 and Wilmer 70. As I worked out in the, what at that time I thought was really hot sun, they taught me how to spot a ripened watermelon). With the growth of my melon, I’ve thrown some potatoes, okra and peas into the pot, so let’s see what else grows.

I recently met with an Indian filmmaker, who is making a film about ex-pats. I’m not sure whether she’ll want me to be in the film, but one of the questions that she asked was, “Why do you love India?” To me, this question is rhetorical, like when someone asks me about my love for basketball, it’s just very obvious and doesn’t really need an answer.
To someone who lives in the same country for most of their life, thought, maybe it’s not so obvious. After all, the amount of traffic and people and pollution, etc., in Delhi is so oppressive, one might ask why would anyone want to live in India, much less love India.

I walked out my front door to get some medications at my local chemist, but it’s not the same type of walk that one might make in the States, and the prices are certainly not nearly the same as in the States. Yes, people do recognize me now and so there are many hello’s, but it’s nothing like one sees in the “sanitary” streets at “home”. (I’m truly not quite sure where home acutally is anymore but in the present it is definitely New Delhi). It’s difficult to actually describe, unless you’re here. You can see pictures, but until you are in the midst of it, seeing so many people, doing so many different things, most with huge smiles on their faces at the site of a foreigner, you can’t truly appreciate this.

After purchasing my medications and waving hello to the local shoe repair dude, I walked towards my local Reliance “supermarket”. I decided today to walk down a side street, as I saw lots of signs, indicating shops and people. As I walked down the street, or alley, my camera immediately came out to take pics of the people. The sites are still remarkable to me, but it’s the people that I’m so enthralled with. As I walked down one street and started snapping, people came out of their houses and indicated that they wanted to be photographed as well. I can’t imagine a foreigner in the US asking people to pose for pics. I just can’t imagine so many people being outside of their homes in the US. Well, maybe in smaller towns, but I can’t imagine it being anything like India.

It’s definitely the people from the very young, who sometimes seems to be a bit afraid of me, to the, what appears to be very old men, in their turbans, to the young women, on their 50 year old sewing machines to the women in their multi-colored saris. I’m not quite sure what they make of me, because many just don’t speak English and I only, Mei todhi Hindi bolte hu. (I only speak a little Hindi). I guess though that it doesn’t quite matter as there is a communication that is done through so much smiling.

But there is also the basketball stuff. Yeah, I could be playing wherever I live and of course I would be, but where would I be able to play with Indians, French and Congolese dudes, a 6’8” Australian gus, Eastern Europeans who are constantly speaking to each other in Serbian, an American named Moosa who has the deepest voice in the world and works for the World Bank and an American doctor who spends time in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Maybe I’m exaggerating and could find this kind of game on a playground in Orange County, CA, possibly as it is fairly diverse, but I don’t think so. And where could I be teaching Indian children how to meditate?

Ok, so that maybe is going a bit too far, but last night at the YMCA this is exactly what I was doing. It was a small group, 15 children and I asked how many of them had ever meditated. None raised their hands and I said, in order to be present, to just focus on basketball, we are going to meditate. This is exactly what we did, after stretching and talking about how basketball is about life, a short meditation. I even told the kids about Phil Jackson and how he uses meditation. I have to say that this was a magical moment for me as I walked around looking at the children in a very peaceful state. I was amazed. I get chills now just writing about last night.

We have so much fun and the children are always laughing with me. They are continuing to “get” what I’m trying to teach, there was actually a “give and go” last night run so perfectly that it could have been a highlight on ESPN. I stopped the game and was jumping up and down and cheering as the children just cracked up. But I can so much be “me” in India.

A silly concept, “me”. I’m reading about this in Eckhart’s Tolle’s most recent book “A New Earth”. Yes, it’s this “silly new age” stuff, which makes so much sense to me. But yes, this me is feeling so, at home in India. Here is the picture though-I’m getting off the metro, in that famous Rajiv Chowk place where nobody will let you off. I wink at the Indian guys next to me waiting to get off. The doors open, I put my arms out in front of me and just say excuse me in rapid fire statements until I’m totally clear and not one person has touched me. The “guards” dressed in orange vests, who are supposed to be helping people get off, just smile as I wave good-bye, mission accomplished.

It doesn’t take much for me to be in “love” because I’m constantly working on being present. I know I shouldn’t be working but…this is India and I say why not, what else will grow?

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Hi Michael,
I work at VSO in London and I'm really enjoying your blog! I wondered - all these pics you're taking - are you sticking them on a photo site like Flickr? If so I'd love to have the link - my address is alexandra.vernon@vso.org.uk
Keep up the good work - and the meditation lessons!
Alex