India is definitely not for everyone, but it must be in my DNA because as soon as my foot hit Indian soil in 2005 it felt like I had come home. There has not been a single day since that early morning in Chennai that I have not thought about Ma India. Not one. Not even when I returned home from my third trip in January 2008 with virulent salmonella food poisoning. I flew 18 hours from India sicker than a mangy Indian street dog — I almost passed out in the Chennai airport before I even got on the plane.
I am a former moderator of IndiaMike.com, a site with over 30,000 members, each with their own story about India, and most, I’m sure, with a love/hate relationship with India. One of my Indian yoga teachers told me that I’m a native now — that the first time you go to India you’re a little scared and apprehensive; the second time you love it and you want to stay forever because nothing is ever wrong; the third time you begin to see things as a native does — the good, the bad, the horrible, the indifference, the enthralling, and the enchanting, India in all its glory. Instead of asking me “what country, madam?”, people now ask me, “do you live here, madam?” Sometimes in Calcutta I am even mistaken for a Bengali.
Once I wrote: “India has her hooks in me like an old lover — an old lover who you’ve told yourself that you never want to be with again but who keeps re-appearing like a hungry ghost tapping on your shoulder, and no matter how fast you run you can never escape him because he is a part of you forever. You know this and you hate it but you love it all at the same time.”
India nourishes my heart and feeds my soul and I need to visit Ma India as much as I need the air to live. One of my blogger pals once wrote: “…if I don’t follow my Heart, I will lose a piece of my aliveness. It doesn’t take too many compromises to become a walking dead person…”
“…I realized what coming here does for me — India integrates me, takes the yin and yang and pulls it together into the One that gives me peace. It is hard to describe, but when I realized it, it literally felt like two halves melting into one.” — Linda-Sama
“If you have to ask what India is, you’ll never know.”
(apologies to Louis Armstrong)