Sunday, April 6, 2008

Worlds Between

After three months in India in 2008, bringing my time on the sub-continent to 9 months, I realize a sad and awkward reality that I belong in two places. In the words of my Indian friend, I'm wedded to the country, and torn between two worlds. I miss California, yet I am at home in India. I am pulled between relationships on two continents, and I harbor an elusive status that precludes the depth that is sufficient to satisfy. As I dined in a pillow-adorned buggy in South Delhi with an edgy and charismatic girl, as I landed in Hyderabad and was greeted by my driver and friends, and as I encountered a high-school friend in a South Indian bar, I am reminded of my tryst with two worlds. My worlds are multiple, and my experiences have afforded me an ability to recognize and understand pride in Spain, Switzerland, Ecuador, and India. But with each understanding I have gained, I have left those behind who might have become great friends. In the perpetual and elusive change, I am both broadened and saddened by my global friendships.

Over the past week, as I walked alone through Old Delhi's Chowri Bazaar, my thoughts tumbled slowly through my mind as my body negotiated the surrounding chaos. The dichotomies envelope my every moment, thought, surrounding, and intention. As a dusty man sleeps atop crumbled concrete, I dismiss my haste with a claim that I am powerless to help one man, and that I will devote my efforts to affect broader change. But sometimes the demands of time and commitment and comfort deceive the good intentions of decent people. Intentions become excuses and then they become the fodder for champagne toasts; they become the stories of reflective prose; they become a lingering guilt that grows into indignation and questions what others have failed to achieve, and not what one's self has failed to demand.

But as I've vomited bile from the window of a cab, alone in Calcutta, I no longer desired the hard adventure that ostensibly broadens us, and defines us in youth. I craved comforts, and I had the audacity to desire them as I passed Kolkata slums. Moments in India challenge compassion and humanity; they challenge self-definition; moments make us question who we are and what we believe in. Some raise a glass, and others raise a fit. The truth is, many people do both, existing in the hypocritical world of dichotomies that appeases both our human desire for comfort, and our privileged but genuine philanthropic vanity.


Laura* said...

Great post!
Full of poetry!
I love it!

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