The countdown has begun. Two days from this early morning, we begin our journey back to the United States.
Jennifer Lema is one of the girls from this group of students. Part of their work was a series of essays on various topics. This is a standout example of writing from an excellent group of students. Jennifer is 20 years old. I am publishing this with her approval.
This is one of the essays that Jen wrote regarding the north trip.
India fits more than 1.2 billion people into an area whose total reaches only a third of United States. In some parts their presence is made loud and clear, in others they are hidden away and silenced. These are the parts that deceive you. These are the treasures that are worth chasing after. Over the course of eleven days India slowly opened up to us. She revealed her well concealed age and showed us that time has not robbed her of her beauty.
Where does India keep more than 1.2 billion people? Some are crammed into a train station, barely able to stretch their arms out on the way to Jaipur. Others gravitate towards a series of previously hidden cosmological devices. Some go to Amber Fort and find that they cannot determine whether it would be more fun to ride an elephant or wander through and around the mountainous landscape. Many more flock to the Taj Mahal to indulge in its extravagant splendor. They hurry along the sides of the gem colored pool and pose just in time for the prefect picture. They “ooh” and “ahh” at the vividness of the marble and they cannot help but stare in amazement at the sight of so much beauty in name of love. Some find themselves sardined into Fatehpur Sikri, unsure if they feel more overwhelmed by the craftsmanship of the Mughals or by the fierce competition between people selling goods. She scatters more than 11 million people throughout Delhi. Some make it to the airport and disperse in search of calmer waters.
They go to Varanasi only to bump up against a million others on the same mission. They try their luck at the ghats and realize the trip was worth the while. History makes up every particle of air and the city bathes under the beauty of the sun and the moon. Some are able to find their way to the Sarnath to walk and pray around the ruins of Buddhist relics. They are hopeful throughout their whole pilgrimage, wishing to find enlightenment on the way. Some people are hidden away in Chandigarh under the mighty wings of Corb and others are pulled towards Amritsar. They weave in and out of the Assembly building and touch the sacred gold of the Sikh temple. These, like the ones who reached Varanasi are witnesses of contradicting nature of India. They are able to experience solitude despite being surrounded by millions.
India has the great ability of making someone feel like an individual by concealing all the rest that surrounds them. She lets you breathe when you feel as if she is trying to suffocate you and she lets you roam around her wrinkled skin, unapologetic for the years of wear and tear. She lets you find the gritty and the graceful and she lets you capture her even at her most vulnerable moments. She holds you with a warmness that only she possesses and makes you never want to let go.