It is commonly said that the person who leaves for a trip is not the same person who returns. Travelling is one of the most transformative human experiences. Even if you prepare for it reading, researching and asking people for advice and tips, more often than not, the reality surpasses any preconceived notion.
The trip to India was more than an 8,386-mile adventure away from home. It was a deeply personal journey with illuminating inner reflections about life, death and happiness.
India, like beach destinations and party cruises, is not for everyone. The traveler to India should go without prejudiced ideas about hygiene, poverty and neatness. The reality is that going to India is a loud, messy, complex and intense sensorial experience. It is a culture like no other in a country like no other.
To me, India was a celebration of simplicity, spirituality and color.
The experience was also fulfilling in terms of information and knowledge. The guides were experts who were generous about giving us the keys to have access to many wonders, mysteries and secrets of such an unusual destination.
These vacations were trans-formative and fun at the same time. After returning, I have spent a few nights, helping my brain archive and process so many memories, emotions and images of a nation full of contradictions: Faith and superstition; horoscopes and astrology; elephants and Bengal tigers; temples and mosques; turbans and saris; spices and peppers; karma and reincarnation; castes and social classes; Ganges and rites; street barbers and call centers; palaces where maharajas lived and forgotten houses inhabited by primates; garbage and pollution; gods with two genders and hijras; yoga and chaos; sacred cows and elephant gods, untouchables and royalty; snail sound and birdsong; lentils and basmati rice; carriages and heavy traffic; ancient past and cutting edge technology; silk and scarves; flowers and fire lamps street vendors; inquisitive sights and children asking to take pictures with foreigners; sadhus and Doms; cremation and salvation; men who walk embraced and holding hands; women who paint themselves on the forehead to tell the world that they are married; country of sandals and bare feet, a nation that came to me through the senses to stay forever in my memory and in my heart.
I am definitely not the same person who left. And after my return, the trip is far from over. I have new interests, curiosities and unanswered questions about India and about myself.
— Jairo Marin