A couple of years ago, on our way to Thailand, we transited through Mumbai airport, in India. Here, there are separate security lines for Gents and for Ladies. As Ashray went to the alpha male line-up I was left alone by the Ladies X-ray machine. I was the only one over there. The Lady behind that machine shouted something to me in Hindi and made a gesture to her colleague to receive me by the next counter. I could make up more or less what she said thanks to her hands pointing to another line. From her talking, I could only distinguish the word “gora”, which is used to describe white people in India. I think she must have said something like “gora coming through!” and this is exactly what I am doing now.
Fast forward to the end of 2012, after over a year of traveling full-time: Ashray and I decided to move to India for a while. Not to become sedentary as such, but to plan our wedding which will happen in New Delhi in a few months, explore the country, spend time with his family and do some work.
And so here I am! This gora has come through and will be here for a while! Although we’re not moving with the same pace as we were while traveling in other countries, this is certainly going to be an intense experience for me. I am in a new country, with time to soak it all in and, believe me, there is plenty to soak!!
I first visited India over 5 years ago. Back then, I thought that this was the most unique place I had ever been too. I have been to many more countries in the meantime and I can still say, hands down, that India has something that other places do not have. Many people tend to use the sentence “place of contrasts” when describing the new cities and countries they travel to. I can assure that less, if no place elsewhere in the world deserves to be described with those same words, the same way India does.
More than a country, India is closer to a continent. Over 400 languages spoken in 28 states. And such a variety in culture, traditions, cuisine and religions co-exist in such an immense space that, being so overly populated and busy, sometimes seems like it’s going to burst.
It’s funny how people perceive India abroad. Many times, talking to other travelers and locals in the places we visited around the world, Ashray would mention he is from India. People would naturally comment based on what they know about the country and those comments would normally revolve around the same topics. Some people perceived India as a very chaotic place, where skinny cows and poor kids look around for food in the most unlike (and filthy) or places. Other people would sound as if they thought everyone in the country spends their time practicing Yoga and India is somehow more Zen than anywhere else in the world: it was all about the spirituality! And of course, we met some Latins that back in the 60s used to consume Bollywood movies (apparently they were very popular in their movie halls back then) and thought that everyone is dancing and looking colorful all day long.
So this is, in a nutshell, how the world sees India:
All of the above cliches are true and at the same time, false. There are tons of poor people in India, yes, but there are also plenty of filthy rich ones. And definitely a lot of “in the middle” as well. There are individuals who spend a lot of their time dedicated to spiritual matters as well as there are others who work 14 hours a day (unfortunately it does seem common around here) and obviously have no time for that kind of thing! And no, I am yet to see any choreographed dances taking place spontaneously in some colorful looking corner – but I am still hoping for that!
So I am now a gora on a mission!
And that mission is to take you around India, through the eyes of a foreigner living with a local. As our perspectives mix and we observe, experience, smell and taste India, we shall be making you travel with us, beyond all the obvious cliches.
This is what this new section GORA COMING THROUGH! is all about.