Indian Pride

Artwork produced by students at the Women's Center

We spent the weekend in Rishikesh, high up in the foot hills at a little cottage resort. The property and establishment is owned by a couple, the husband was the yoga teacher and the wife an Ayurveda specialist. Before we arrived at the resort, we touched down in Rishikesh early in the morning and spent some time at a bourgie but much needed health café. We sipped smoothies and munched on whole wheat pancakes until the sun fully rose over the foothills, and then we set out to our resort. The auto would only take us half way as the road up the mountain was in very bad condition and the vehicle was unfit to take us any further. (side note, Greta was seemingly coming down with the gut infection that got Curtis the week before and was having a hard time). It was hot and uphill for a while but we finally found our spot. They immediately welcomed us with a delicious fresh meal after we settled into our room. We were the only guests that night so we had the chance to really connect with the owners and discuss India through their eyes. We learned how open India and Hinduism really is. Hinduism is a “Neo” Religion. He asked us if we knew what Neo meant, and we all said yes, it means ‘new’. He told us we were close, and that Neo meant always new. Hinduism is Neo because it is always evolving, taking in aspects of culture that they find in people who visit India, and in neighboring areas. I really appreciate this idea. He also informs us of his theory that the Chair is a curse to humanity. It’s unnatural and is a detriment to our health. I think of Greta, up in the room lying in bed suffering. She has been given Ayurvedic medicine but is in bad shape. I think about the chair more and realize I have come to the same conclusion one way or another. I decide I must practice the squat everyone in India can do so impressively. The next morning, me and Curtis (because Greta is sick in bed) go on a hike up to the top of the nearby mountain. We’re at more or less the top when we meet a young Finnish man. We travel with him the rest of the trek and he tells us about his many travels and we discuss differences in culture and our impression of India. His name is Julius. Julius tells us about Finland, and in my opinion it sounds terrible. No sun, no fresh food. I couldn’t do it. He basically works odd jobs to save money for the next trip he will take. He has only been in India for a few days, but he shares an interesting perspective with us. Having traveled to almost every continent (every one but Africa) he finds that India is the least like western culture. Indians are very content in their unique way of life, and don’t look to America for inspiration. India is in between the Middle East and China, and India very much is a mixture of the two. I have observed similarly. When Greta and I are teaching dance to the girls at the Project, we ask if they want to listen to a Hindi song or and American song, and they all without fail want Hindi. When we are talking about dance, and ask if they want to do a Hindi dance they are exuberant. I haven’t traveled long or far much at all, only the sound of Europe, but in that experience everyone was very into the worst pop music in America, and pop culture that I was trying to get away from. It is refreshing to be welcomed with such warm arms into a culture that doesn’t give two shits what we do over in America. They are proud here, and they know their country is amazing. They know there are problems, that is clear by the artwork all over the project with slogans like “save Girl Child” “stop cutting trees” “fix the pollution” and “clean India”. The children here are full of thirst for learning, the people here live with only what they need, only that which their environment doesn’t already provide them. We all have problems, India is far from perfect but damn, It’s truly a rich, vibrant, and proud country.