I sat there holding my tears back; I didn’t want to cry… not yet, not on the train. Across from me was Val in a daze holding her bag, next to her was Dani with a face of desperation, next to me was Jess with a face of freshly shed tears and sheer exhaustion. I looked down and continued rubbing the cross that I have on my daypack and praying to my God to please let us survive this train ride. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, and I wanted to leave India. I was done with her. This was it; this was the straw that broke my back. Moments later I looked at Jess and told her “This is inhumane, no human on earth should have to travel like this. The people look at us, and laugh, because they don’t know better, they think this is normal. You know I’ be more ashamed of telling my father about this than telling him about the hand job I gave on a chicken bus?”
The 4 of us were cramped in a 2nd class train cabin like sardines for a few hours. Imagine a cabin for about 100 people filled with at least 200+ people. Imagine people climbing over each other to get in or out, people pushing you to get through. Imagine you are in your coffin still alive and can’t get out. That’s the situation we were in and we honestly couldn’t take it any longer. Instead of going 14+ hours up to our destination we got off at a random town 5 hours in. We got off the train and had no clue where we were going to stay or what we were going to do. We were all frustrated… and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had shut down hours ago… I walked away from the girls as we were making plans. I started crying. People looked at me I didn’t care… the tears were rolling. I couldn’t help it, I felt in more danger on that train ride then the time I was held at gunpoint in Costa Rica.
—What it looked like right after we got off that crazy train ride.—
I can go on about how much crazier the night got after we got off the train, but I won’t. I had mentioned that I would never write about that train ride, because it was one of the worst moments of this crazy adventure I am on around the world. You see though it was after that moment I finally saw the beauty of India. I know what you are thinking huh… how? Well you see at that point I had already been in India over two months and honestly I hated it. I just was not enjoying it like I thought I would. The reason why I wasn’t enjoying it is because I just didn’t understand it. I know in a foreign country nothing is supposed to make sense. It’s not made for you to understand it’s made for the people who live there to understand. I just had never been a country where so many things didn’t make sense.
—A kid holding on to his cow after it almost rammed me.—
I didn’t understand why you would see a luxurious building and right next to it people sleeping on the street? I didn’t understand why Cows are just allowed to roam freely and even wrote about it here? I didn’t understand why just about everywhere you walked you would see trash? I didn’t understand why so many people lived on the street or under bridges? I didn’t understand why I would see people using the toilet in the street? I didn’t understand why I would see people showering near the railway tracks? I didn’t understand anything about the Ganges River and was basically repulsed by it? I didn’t understand why an Orange city would be advertised as Pink? I didn’t understand why they loved ripping foreigners off? I didn’t understand what their fascination with “AMERICA” (USA) was? I didn’t understand how the most hectic country I have ever visited is home to one of the calmest practices in the world… YOGA? I didn’t understand why people eat with their hands? I didn’t understand how they can have public toilets with no doors? I didn’t understand the Indian Railway system and why they would sell more tickets than seats? I didn’t understand how anyone could love this country? I didn’t understand many things and I can go on & on, but I’ll stop here.
—A group of children in a small desert village in awe of Val & I since they rarely see foreigners.—
You see it was after that crazy train trip that I realized that India doesn’t give a fuck about what you feel, think or don’t understand. India is one crazy bitch and she is who she is and either you adjust and enjoy the adventure or you are going to hate it. She doesn’t care about your feelings… she will tear you apart one minute and lift you up so high the next. She will make you see beauty in the most mundane things in life and at the same time make you see the horror of the reality that is the world we live in. She will feed you one second and make it a task to find food or water the next. She will make it easy to find shelter one day and difficult the next. She will make it easy to get to point A one day and make it a marathon to get to point B the next.
I’m a person who loves to question every thing and love to hear answers and well she didn’t give them to me and it wasn’t until I understood that, that I stopped hating her. It wasn’t until I realized that, that I realized why people love India so much. She is ruthless, she is intense and hides nothing from you. You see sometimes we travel to far and foreign destinations and try to make sense of things, but sometimes the beauty of things are that you can’t make sense of them at all.
—My house mother for 15 days while I volunteered in a desert town teaching English.—
It’s been over a month since I left India and to be honest I miss her. I look back and laugh at so many things (even the crazy train ride), that I will never understand and now understand that’s the beauty of her. Even though I had just celebrated my one year on the road when I arrived in India and thought I already saw the world differently… spending 3 months in India made me see the world even more different (hell I came back to Cairo and felt like it was one of the most calm, clean cities in the world). I wrote over 20 blog post about my 3 months there and this one is my final one (for now). When I left I thought I would never want to visit her again, however when I look at my photos I can’t help, but wanna go back. I only scratched the surface of what she has to offer. I don’t know how to put into words exactly how I feel about India, but know she will always have a place in my heart. I don’t know how she did that, but she worked her way in and because I know I will never love her I will tell her this:
Oh India I hate you… I hate you not!