Traveling to India is one of those things every yogi has on their karmic checklist.
Being able to say, “when I was in India,” is sort of a big deal in the yoga scene.
So, when I was in India, there was something both unique and amazing about the people.
I think because their lives and characteristics were so different from mine, I noticed a slew of details. I noticed their dark hair and smooth skin, their white teeth and brightly colored clothing and how it took such a trained eye to see the difference between the rich and the poor because everyone dressed the same and rode the bus.
One thing that really made them stand out to me was this constant and sincere desire to connect. They would come up to me and just start talking.
We just don’t do that here. Not with strangers. Not here.
Who does that?—Just walks up and says, without any agenda, “where you from?” out of pure curiosity?
In India they did this, at least where I was, and they did it often. Most of the time there was nothing to be gained, no sale to be made. Nothing. They simply wanted to connect.
I learned from some of the locals that this was just the way they did things. It wasn’t because I was white or western, because I watched them do the same with random Indians too.
The questioning was pretty similar each time. It went like this: “Where you from? You married? Where your husband? You have children?”
They wanted to know details about my family. They were not interested in what I did for a living or why I was in India. They did not want to know where I went to college or where I worked.
They wanted to know who I loved.
Even as we traveled three times a week to a rural farm clinic where we offered ayurvedic treatments to the locals, the same thing would happen—without words. And on our drive back to the city it would happen again with people on the buses, especially with the women. They would smile and just look at us for as long as our vehicles were side-by-side. They would wave, offer their hands in prayer position, laugh with one another and then repeat the cycle from wave to laughter all over again until the light changed and we both moved on in our respective vehicles.
They were so beautiful, and most of them worked long hours, six days per week. We could see that they were tired.
They were living in homes with dirt floors and leaky roofs, and they were filled with light.
I wonder sometimes about how we compare—how we move so darn fast and how we seldom lock eyes to ask about the family (in a sincere way, not a habitual way). I wonder about the cultural addiction to complaining, our mixed-up priorities and I wonder about truly making a difference.
I know what makes a difference: it is presence.
It is our presence that is our greatest contribution to our community, our people and our home. It is the light in your eyes connecting to the light in my eyes that reminds us that we are all the same beneath our superficial differences.
And I know that the light that shines forth from my eyes? This little light of mine?
It’s yours too.
Author: Britt B. Steele
Apprentice Editor: Sarah Snedaker / Editor: Catherine Monkman