Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme
Some places have subtle flavours, so fragile that sometimes they are hard to recall. The case of India is different. India is such an intense experience for the senses that I am sure I will never forget it. Its culture, which you can perceive even in the simplest details of daily life, envelop you in a way that do not let you hesitate a second that you are in the unique country of India.
As Suketu Mehta convincingly says when he describes the city of Mumbai, the visual is the first of the shocks for the senses. In a country full of contrasts, it is not unusual to see modern buildings next to tiny houses made of scrap materials. On the streets, your eyes have to help you cross the streets, avoiding fast three-wheel cars and cows on the way. But the streets should never be a place to avoid. Rather, it is the place where the real India is shown, where you get to see colourful kurtis and sarees, tropical fruits and flowers, and hundreds of street food places. Oh Indian food and its amazing variety of flavours! The delicious chai, the indispensable dal, the just made chapatti, and a touch of spiciness in a dish are things that I am glad they are part of my daily life now.
India has also made me realise how different cities sound. Not only because the hectic traffic you do not see almost anywhere else, but also because my background sound now includes Marathi and Hindi, languages completely unknown to me, which sometimes makes me feel really far from any place I was familiar to. In contrast, the sound of the monsoon rains, the crickets, and the tree leaves rustling in the wind (sounds that I only hear when the electricity cuts out) brings me back in a strange way to my home country Colombia. The exuberant green of surroundings of Tarapur, the hot and humid feeling also reminds me I am on the tropic.
Despite all of this, the best way to feel India is by getting to know the mainstay of its culture, its people. Only through them you can discover their customs full of meanings and surprises. Although India can be completely different from what you are used to, and sometimes even shocking, that is what this experience is all about: enjoying and learning from how different we are from each other.