India 2013 ~ Day 1

Walking through the Chandni Chowk market in Old Delhi, carefully dodging rambling rickshaws and incessantly honking cars.  The smell of urine, fresh and invasive, battles with the smoky and polluted air for my immediate attention.  All around me, the vibrant colors of humanity, incapable of discretion, are displayed as freely as the sparkling rows of saris which provide an elegant back drop to the thrilling madness.  With feeling, breathing awareness I practice opening my heart to exactly what is.

Old men, weary from years of hard work and even harder living, desperately attempt to lure passerby's to their shop.  The protective mother in me winces as I watch a family of four whiz by on a single motorbike. The father navigates the fast moving and overcrowded streets while his dirt covered little boy straddles the gas tank in front of him and his trusting baby girl sleeps soundly across her mothers lap behind him.  Breathe. 

Masses of men with piercing eyes, unapologetically stare as they parade by like hungry schools of fish.  A young girl with a gigantic grin eagerly runs up to shake my hand while her girlfriends giggle in awed delight.  Gawky teens in blue jeans and turbans quietly lean on each other between carts of vegetables and piles of rotting trash and watch.   A trembling man holds out his hand hoping for rupees while I feel the all too familiar pang of guilt for not knowing how to help.  Breathe. 

Just outside of a colorful temple, the sweet smell of carefully prepared prasad offers a welcome break from the onslaught of offensive odors.   Beautiful ruby roses and bright orange marigolds are strung together and ready to be offered as gifts to the gods.  An elaborately dressed young bride prepares to dutifully fulfill her dharma.  

Just in the nick of time, I manage to squeeze between a goat and a broken down auto rickshaw with a thin man asleep in the back, to avoid getting hit by the tall white tourist bus forcing its way down the street.  I look into the shiny windows and see a row of faces, eyes wide and jaws dropped, gazing out from their safe distance at the exotic world before them.  

A tiny woman with sad eyes and unshakeable faith, silently prays.  

Nobody skips a beat as they pass by the man lying dead at the side of the road. They simply step around him and go about their day.  Now and then a well-educated woman with a wrist full of gold bangles catches my eye and knowingly smiles.  I take another deep breath and gratefully notice that I too am smiling.  

Utterly in love with the unabashed honesty of this place. Every moment is another opportunity to experience the wild and authentic chaos of the conditional realm, all pulsing perfectly with the breath of the infinite.  

Kirsten Warner