India July 2017
I am sitting in Social, one of Mumbai's hip new spots for the rising middle class of India, it is hard to imagine I am not back in the U.S or somewhere in Europe. Yet, as soon as you walk out past the security check point of the mall it is housed in, on to the actual streets of Bombay, you are quickly reminded that this city and country are one of stark contrast.
I am staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai. A bit of an end of trip luxury I allowed myself after 5 days without a shower down in Keralla. The Four Seasons lies in a guarded compound, and is literally surrounded by slums. When I look out of my 18th floor corner room window I can see that below me is a very different reality. I am not sure how I feel about it? I guess gratitude is the first thing that comes to mind. From this (extremely lucky) vantage point, I can easily think of endless things in my life that I can be thankful for.
I took a walk through one of the slums. It was vibrant and alive with Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10 day Hindu festival in tribute to Ganesha, the elephant deity, God ofnew beginnings and remover of obstacles. Within a 10 minutes of me walking into the slum I was greeted by many people and I could feel a true warmth. As a westerner in India, the locals are constantly looking in my direction with curiosity and I got the sense that the people who lived there in the slum were genuinely happy that I had decided to walk in and visit them. A group of kids, about 25 of them, soon grabbed me and whisked me through an alley and into a tent which was where their beautifully made idol of Ganesha was housed. Later this week they will bring their idol God down the street to the shores of the Arabian Sea where they will send Ganesha out into the waves to mark their new beginnings.
This trip has been important for me in many ways. I like to go out and put myself in places that are challenging and feel alien and I had not done that in a while. I realize this type of travel is not for everyone but for me it is like a drug that I need and the more I go out in the world, the more world I want to see and experience. I remember hearing people say in the past: "go travel and get it out of your system." I can't imagine getting travel and adventure "out of my system."
India continues to blow my mind and challenge me with every corner I turn and I must thank her again for letting me in and teaching me something.