We started in Domkhar with simple families in simple houses with simple lives. Grow the food, harvest the food, eat the food, store the rest for Winter. Dirt squat toilets, electricity between 6 PM and 11 PM. No running water, but why would you need it? There's a stream right outside the front door. Go collect water in a bucket, heat it on the stove, dump it back in the bucket, pour it over your head, lather, rinse, repeat. Actually, don't repeat, shampoo once. That's it and that's all you need. In fact, life there has all you need to survive, and to survive peacefully and compassionately.
We continued to Dharamsala. Plaster squat toilet flushed by hand with water in a bucket. Slept in the dining/family room so comfortably. Woken up every morning by a bright, shining young Tibetan girl's face intently staring at mine. Hot showers maybe 1 1/2 times out of the 4 showers I took during my stay, sometimes curled up on the floor beneath a slow trickle of luke warm or ice cold water, depending on the weather, I suppose... Not once did I mind water being shut off just for fun, or whatever the reason was, how could I? There was running water, what a luxury! And I slept next to a giant window overlooking Dharamsala and was greeted by a fuschia and orange sun rise every morning. The food was beyond fantastic, my family was real.
I now find myself sitting on a large, cozy, comfortable bed in a large room all to my own with a study, tea area, large tiled floor, fan whirling above my head, window the size of my bed burst open allowing city sounds to flood in, a closet/dressing area leading to a bathroom including a Western toilet, running water, and a hot shower whenever I want one. All of this to my own. All this in a large house with 3 different families, 14 people all together, 4 different generations, sari adorned, in the middle of the Pink city littered with Pink flowers blanketed by a Pink sky.
And I get it.
There is no "India".
There is no stereotype to use, no label to give. This place is multi-dimensional with extremes as far and deep as the universe is infinite.
I do not even have these luxuries at my own home in New York, and never have, and have never dreamed of or expected such things. And to go from life in Domkhar harvesting "cow's grass" side-by-side with a family who just months before planted all of the crops, to having 4 servants cooking my meals, cleaning my room, serving me tea in bed after a long day full of ISPS....
Neither is better than the other. Neither is right or wrong.
There is no concrete definition to anything, is there.
It is all relative, isn't it?
There is no "Indian" person, "Indian" place, Indian anything in the way I labeled "India" to be... Or in the way that I was.
Agricultural Buddhists of Ladakh.
Tibetan Refugees of Dharamsala.
Aristocratic Rajhastanis of Jaipur.
All in one land mass labeled as "India".
Just another walk of life on this floating ball we are all co-existing on, circling itself around the sun somewhere within this infinite abyss of space and energy we call "universe".
No concrete, absolute, definition to any of it.
It is all fluid, isn't it.
It is not concise or concrete...
Just like "I", isn't it..
Welcome to the universe, Mirise. It is infinite, and you are infinitely floating in it, infinitely trying to figure it out within a sea of infinite truths.
The sounds of Jaipur float in through the window towards me. There is an infinite array of sounds that are "Jaipur". I cannot hold one sound and say "This is it, this does it, this is the sound of Jaipur", just as I cannot cut off my finger and hold it in my hand and say "This does it, this is finger" because without the hand arm shoulder body mind to work all together, the finger does not work.
Is it not entirely dependent upon everything else.
Is it also not entirely relative.
Welcome to India, it is empty of being "India".
And how absolutely incredible that is.
I feel nothing but gratitude, for Domkhar and Dharamsala and Jaipur and Justin and Tracy and Global LAB. Grateful for my friends, those back home and all the wonderful, special new ones I have made over here.
And the most intense gratitude for my family. I love you all so much.
ps- just a side note.... after all that has happened here, I find myself at my final ISP, which, unbenounced to me when I signed up for it, is strangely, familiarly reminiscent of my Clayton James Cubitt, FIT, Manhattan/Brooklyn days...
Isn't that fascinating.