Sunday, June 1, 2008
Time moves differently here. Bombardment of the senses and immensity of experience amount to hours that one is both hustled through and frozen within. Part of this, no doubt, can be attributed to jet lag and a broken routine. But truly, India has a pace that sweeps you up, weakens your defences and forces you to submit to a flow you have little say in.
It doesn’t help that we’re also political pawns. As we’re learning, religion has as much to do with strategic PR as it does with faith. As westerners showing interest in tradition vying for world religion status, we are viewed by our hosts as bait to lure the press and investors in their exchange program. And so, we find ourselves smack in the middle of frantic press conferences one minute then sitting through long speeches and lingering sacred ceremonies as so-called guests of honor (see pic above for just some of the ladies who shoved food in our mouth and snapped pictures of us in an inaugural ceremony just hours after we landed). As the sweat drips, the minutes tick and our legs beg to be relieved of their crossed position (certain postures are required in the presence of high level ascetics), I wonder who is performing more austerities at the moment…the strict monks or us? Deep breath.