As crappy as this sounds, it does fade into the background as just “the way it is” and after about a week the more important teachings start to emerge. Those teachings come from the people, though that’s not easy to see at first. Not easy because there are SO MANY people. Even on the quietest day and night, people jam the streets, motorbike and cars honk, and cows moo. All the shops are tiny and everything is colorful and dusty. And there are beautiful saris on every woman. And there are people dressed in no clothes at all. And there are Hindu Swamis with tangled beards and ashes streaking their foreheads. And there are beautiful children with big brown eyes. And any of these people will stare shamelessly at a light-skinned westerner since we are really the ones out of place.
But here’s the thing, here’s the lesson: If you catch the eye of any of these people, offer them a smile and a tip of the head, or touch your hand to your heart, or offer a slight bow with your hands held together in the position of prayer, what you get in return is love; a smile with what feels like an honest, guileless, open and loving connection with the soul of that person. It is not something we get very often in this country; the acknowledgement of the commonness of human experience; the sense of unity with other people; the consciousness that tells us there is a divinity that runs through all of humanity—call it what you will.
Truth be told, none of us are too busy to offer a brief connection with another person. A nod here, a smile there, a hand on your heart, a look in the eye. Try it. Just a couple of times a day. It’ll make you feel good. And them, too.