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10 Years and a Day — An Indian Retrospective

I found a journal today from my trip to India back in 2001. There was an entry from 8.26.2001 that summed up a lot of what I had felt after experiencing an entirely new continent, people, culture, and way of life. I’m amazed at how much of me feels the exact same way as I did then, while a whole other portion says “oh, I was so young then.” Before I dive into that entry, there’s one more from my flight to India that I’d like to share.


Airplanes & dawn. Deep black sky is laced by a foundation of sapphire & followed by a thin band of fire. Cruising @ 37,000 feet above the Atlantic on our way to England marks my first time overseas. If this is what the seas have to offer, make me a sailor. Voyaging through the dark of night, exploring the unknown.

A young boy stares captivated out the fire escape window. Captivated by the dazzling sky & clouds that have recently come into view he props himself on his elbows and gazes. Is he returning home to India? Is he merely here to make me appreciate my own childhood & child within? What a beautiful moment.

While I’ve learned to avoid using a lot of the same language two or three times within run on sentences since then, I think I knew something before I even got to India … that I was returning home to it. India was always in me, it still is. The colors, the smells, the excitement, the plains, the mountains, the ornate riches, the doors, the alleys, the people. My disdain for western culture has perpetually ebbed and flowed within me for the past decade. I’ve embraced technology while at the same point found solace in the simple beauty of a snail or a meadow. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to fully meet the demands of the me in the next entry, but I’m glad to know I can reflect back on these moments and feel that fire burning.


I thought going to India would help me appreciate what I have here in the US. It didn’t. Just going to India can lead you to the Radisson with five star restaurants & private bowling alleys or tropical beach resorts with drinks in beach chairs overlooking the sunset of a life time. Or it can take you to a life altering mountaintop that makes you, not helps you, realize that what we truly need to seek is not more material gain but more personal understanding

As a 21 year old American male I have bought into the sales pitches of cars, TVs, stereos, you name it. I own 3 times more DVDs than every year I’ve been alive, my computer cost nearly as much as my car, I have enough clothes to last me for nearly one month without ever having to do laundry and what happens when I go to the store? “Oh, I need that. I’ll be a better person if that’s in my home.”


Newsflash. There is an innumerable amount of people in Delhi because so many of the people do not have homes. Unless you consider a rickshaw a mobile home, tens of thousands of people sleep in the street homeless every night. Are they worried about their latest pair of Nike shoes that made sound effects when you run? I think not.

Let’s travel to the north for a minute shall we? Ladakh. A region in the Indian Himalayas that has been open to tourists since 1974. Home of some of the greatest Buddhist monasteries the world has ever laid eyes on. Within this area is a village named Alchi, site of a 1001 year old temple. The people’s hearts here are open flowers willing to show you the area or offer you a cup of tea over conversation. Drought has hit this valley to the point where 40% of the farms cannot produce crops this year. As a member of the Global Eco Spiritual Tours 2001 Ladakh tour group, I had the honor of giving a solar panel & electric lantern to a family who up until August 6th had no power. Now they are extremely grateful to have a fluorescent lamp in their home. The woman I gave this gift to broke down into tears as she repeatedly touched her hand to her head as a symbol of utmost respect & thanks. To me it was just a lamp, to her it was the greatest gift she had ever been given. She walked home that night with a new passion for life and a light to guide her along the way. I too received a light guiding my passion, but it shines within.

I refuse to fall prey to the ads demanding that I lose weight or gain more material wealth, get more from my car or give more to my job. We can learn a lot from the Buddhist communities in Northern India. They have happiness even when they don’t have water enough to grow crops. Their faith runs deeper than the deepest valleys & can withstand even the longest droughts. It pangs me to say that that greatly overshadows probably all of us Americans who sit comfortably @ home in our ergonomic chairs and posturepedic mattresses, and it doesn’t exclude me.

I am going to try. Try to stop spending frivolously on things that I really can live without, quite easily too mind you. Try to focus on what life has to offer me rather than the next salesman I see when I change the channel. Try to find out who I am and who I want to be rather than who everyone else thinks I am & who they want me to be. Try to remember the fluorescent light as it disappeared into the ebony night, beginning a new journey into a village unknown.

So what do you say? Will you try something new and reject the commercialism that America keeps putting in our feed bags or will you jump back on the conformation super highway? Look around you. Look inside you. Do you have a light or do you need one? If you have one share it with someone who may be dim or blown out. If you need one, then stop buying into the lies force fed to you & follow your heart. Soon you’ll glow brighter than the stars on a clear Himalayan night. In either case, step out and make a choice, and dont forget to lend your light to other travelers along the way.

I love the young-manifesto that I threw down on paper on my flight from India. A decade ago, I returned home, smelly, sweaty, sick with food poisoning, but changed. A Truth in me was confirmed, yet somehow, more questions filled my mind than answers. I intend on returning to India, seeing how this magical country has evolved since I was there ten years ago. My heart is still with you India, and yours with mine.

One Comment

  1. Brant
    Posted August 29, 2011 at 6:34 am | #

    Your entry has caused me to pause and reflect on my own journeys to India and such places. The thoughts and feelings you shared are very much inside me. Thanks for the reminder to touch on those and remember…


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