On a previous trip to India during the late 90’s the soundtrack of that journey became synonymous with the latest Bollywood hit; “Dil to Pagal Hai”. In 2005 another movie would take up its role as the musical undercurrent. “Kal Ho Naa Ho” would command our attention; the jeeps speaker’s conduits of music and dance. From a distinctly Indian version of “Pretty Woman” to the profound “Heartbeat” which often thumped in perfect time with our own sorrow.
For five weeks we never got tired of hearing the seven tracks that made up the cassette tape and to this day it elicits an emotional response…overwhelming happiness, sadness, adventure, and disbelief.
As I listen to the tracks the memories, the craziness, sights, sounds, and chaos of India come flooding back in a torrent. Pretty Woman especially, as it conjures up memories of a wedding celebrated in the freezing Solan hotel.
I have been lucky enough to have travelled throughout India on three separate occasions; each time in a different area of the sub-continent. Each time endearing me to the country for wildly different reasons and each time with a new set of memories, experiences, and stories to tell.
Each time with a newly rekindled flame for my return.
One of the more typical clichés used to describe travel through India is that it is an “Assault on the Senses”. Another is that it takes a couple of weeks to fully realize how much you hate the place but once you get to that point and stay in spite of that feeling, India will crawl under your skin and you will be forever captivated…each departure simply meaning you are just that much nearer to your next arrival.
No matter what description a person opts to use in order to more completely relay an accurate portrayal of the country and its culture, it is likely mere words will be inadequate.
India is one country in particular where a one on one meeting is required; a face to face exchange of introspective thoughts and a place where personal constitutions are tested. A foreigner in India can look inside themselves to discover compassion, understanding, and tolerance on levels unknown almost anywhere else.
India provides plenty of opportunity for bewilderment. She provides an endless onslaught of experiences from which a foreigner can draw and she injects herself into every pore of your being.
You become wooed, beguiled, and mesmerized as you tumble through the organized chaos that is India.
From all of that which is bestowed upon any traveler in India there will also come the inevitable connection to Bollywood. The constant stream of movies that touch Indian lives and enable unprecedented escapism for the vast majority of the population to fields of rolling green, snow-capped mountains, and respites of peaceful quiet harmony unknown to most in real life.
Apply these soundtracks to the experience acquired by a foreigner to India and the juxtaposition itself will illustrate perfectly an adequate description of this complex and intensely stimulating country.
To find out how this all came about; click Beckoned Skyward by an Earthquake.
To see more photos of India; click India – A Photo Journal