India’s diversity: a blessing or a curse?

How would you describe India? How would you describe diversity?

After being in India for 6 weeks now, I would like to share the experiences and impressions I have gained so far.

Diversity is described as:

the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people.

or:

Diversity is also the mixture of races and religions that make up a group of people. *

We’re using our 6 senses every single second in life, and we get involved in what we hear, see, smell, taste, touch, feel. How did I perceive India’s diversity by using my 6 senses?

Try to imagine the pictures that come into your mind while reading the following impressions. What do you see?

HEAR

Honks – Loud engines from tuktuks and motor bikes – Mooing cows – Barking dogs – People shouting – People singing – Bells ringing – Music – Loud music playing over loudspeakers – Prayers and chanting over loudspeakers – People yelling at cows/ donkeys/ dogs – People constantly talking to each other without periods or commas – Drums – People greeting you with “Namasté” – Silence

SEE

Crowds of people – Lots of cows/ monkeys/ dogs/ donkeys/ horses and their excrements – Dirt – Dust – Beautiful Indian women in Saris – Old black men with white long hair – Colorful clothes – Clean streets – Grey trash – Plastic bottles – Pollution – Streets, houses, lakes, rivers, nature, cities littered with (single use) plastics – Peaceful clean nature – Fresh, clean air – Blue & seethrough Ganga river, dark faces with beautiful smiles and white teeth – Smiles with yellow/ brownish teeth marked by tobacco – Gold jewelry – Colorful gemstones

SMELL

Cow poop – Dog poop – Kid’s pee – Incense – Sweet sandalwood – Chai – Fruits – Freshly cooked food – Spices – Fennel – Curry – Fire – Smoke – Fresh mountain air – Sewage – Cinnamon – Vanilla – Chemical disinfection – Coconut – Mold – Moisture

TASTE

Spicy – Different – Exotic – Hot – Tasty – Sweet – Bitter – Not definable – Unknown – The comfortable heat on your tongue after having spicy dhal or curry

TOUCH

Other people’s bodies in a crowd – The softness of a cow’s fur – Food while eating with your hands – Dust between your fingers and under your nails – Humidity

FEEL

It is mostly overcrowded, yes! You’re actually never alone – People talk to you, people want to sell you their stuff or their friend’s stuff. People ask you: “Where are you from? First time in India?” – People beg for money, kids beg for candies, pencils, Rupees – People get in your way, bump into you, touch you – People want to take selfies with you, they literally sometimes beg for it – You’re an attraction to Indian people, especially in the countryside or in smaller cities/ villages – It’s mostly mostly the men who talk to you – Women, men, children stare at you, take pictures of you –  People share with you – People share their stories – People share their home cooked food – People share their knowledge – People share their experiences – People help you, if they can’t help you, their friends will help you – People are curious about you and your life in Europe – People smile at you for no reason – People are thankful if you do small things (like taking a selfie with 7 women, you see happy faces and it literally makes your day, because for you no effort was needed) – People offer you to stay at their place, cook for you, or provide you with chai (vegan for me ;-)) – Children are happy when you speak to them in English – People are happy when you LISTEN to them.

What do you see when you read this? How do you feel?


Let me explain my feelings.

We’re all one. I never felt so connected to so many people. It’s crazy how intimidating, but at the same time encouraging it feels to be constantly in a crowd of humans and animals. You’re not alone, you share this planet we live on with so many living beings. You’re not the only one struggling. Somehow, your problems and struggles become a lot smaller.

It’s exhausting. In both, positive and negative ways. Of course, walking through masses of people, feeling stared at, getting questions you’re tired of answering, saying “no” to salesmen and kids begging for money, and always being focused while walking in the crowded streets (trying to get out of the way of people, cows, cars, motorbikes, tuktuks), can be super tiring. Hearing the honks, hearing people’s loud voices, and seeing so much pollution, dirt and dust can get frustrating.

However, it all depends on your attitude. If you get too involved focusing on your senses, if you get annoyed by everything and everyone, you’re making your life super hard. In this case, stress will be your permanent companion.

Take it as a challenge for yourself. Try to focus on yourself, on the footsteps you’re taking, on the things that inspire you.

Talking to people about how they built up their own business without knowing how to write and read is extremely inspiring to me. Listening to people speaking many different languages (like Hindi, German, Italian, Spanish, and English) while admitting that they’re an illiterate adult, amazes me.

Looking (no actually staring) at all these beautiful Indian women, proudly wearing their wonderful Saris, accessorize themselves with a lot of charming jewelry, and smiling at you with their white shining teeth, fascinates me.

Petting cows in the streets makes my heart beat faster. Even when they want to steal my food, I love these creatures. Their eyes are so peaceful and it makes me super content when I touch their soft fur. I never feel annoyed by them, even though they always walk in front of my feet.

I like playing with some of the “scammers”, who talk to you and want your money. When they ask me: “Where are you from?” – which is always the first question – I ask back: “What do you think?”. Then they’re usually confused and they repeat their question, and I repeat mine. Some of them already leave after that, which is nice for me. Some try to guess (one time someone asked me: “You from Turkey?”, I mean, I’m blonde with blue eyes, but ok). It’s actually a funny game, and most likely they don’t get to any further questions or they don’t get to the point, where they are able to sell you something, because you have already reached your destination. Some of them even lose interest in you as they don’t like to talk. To me it’s fun, I don’t have to put a lot of effort or energy in it, and you can interact with people (because ignoring is not the best solution, I can tell you).

Honestly, what I can tell after 6 weeks now: just go with the flow. Never forget to use your common sense. However, try to relax and enjoy. Try to find the learnings out of every situation you’re experiencing. No one wants to harm you, always keep that in mind.

Again, this is MY journey so far. These are MY learning, MY experiences. India is diverse, and so are the people.

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