Came Back Home and Missing God
Whether there is one, or many, or none, and where and why – that is not the point, at least not mine and not now. But there is something which sticked with me, like a smell or a memory, after three months of travelling in India: I will now call it God. And it’s covered in traffic jams, mountain paths and onions.
I personally don’t think it is really worth arguing about faith, whether “god” exists or not. If you believe in it, it exists. Whatever guides a life, a culture, or a moment’s inspiration, has the right to exist. Being not from India – I’m an italian girl, studying anthropology and Indian culture, right now living in Germany – I wouldn’t dare making any excited assumptions about India’s innermost beliefs and rituals. But that is not the point, either.
The point is that the feeling of energy, irony, strenght and crazy light that I perceived while walking in cities and villages or in people’s eyes around India, I hardly found once back in so-called western life. And I do not want to talk about Indian “spirituality” and the like – let spirituality be, as it needs no ink to be spent. I want to talk about the streets. About the power of a population which swarms with an inexplicable, witty and “hip” kind of devotion.
There was that guy, wearing a Johnny Cash shirt and walking up all the way to Tapovan over the glaciers, carrying huge sacks on his shoulders, who smiled at me while taking a short rest, accepted one or two dried dates, and went back to his happy hike. And there was a simple man in a simple room of some Delhi neighbourhood who turned snacks into dinners and dinners into stellar talks of smoke and love and courage. “Keep one ilaaichi seed under the tongue every morning. There will be no disease”, he said, through the sound of roaring cars and the voice of a walking vendor in the dust outside.
On a sidewalk in Kolkata there was a girl walking with her eyes on her smartphone. She stopped for a second, bowed at a small temple of Shitala (the “cool” goddess who protects against smallpox) and resumed her steps and her smartphone. In the same city, as in any other city, thousands of people were working and bowing and marching and stepping on buses and trains crossing bridges and buildings in an endless transfusion of multiple bodies.
Still, I slowly noticed that there was actually just one, and only one big body, beyond all those identities: a single, immense organism of a unique moving creature. And, as silent laws wisely work within nature, I did feel that there was a natural principle working through all those roads and galis, a law which makes sure that from chaos arouses rythm, from noise life, and from anarchy fun, harmony and a special kind of urban grace.
I don’t know whether mine is just an innocent look from an innocent viewer under the spell of majestic maya. But I did feel and still feel from afar that in every woman I met there was the energy of a goddess, and that as inexplicable and profound as faith is, there is some secret ingredient within India’s soul which is sparkling and sacred, secretely giggling and flowing like the currents of its running rivers. Maybe it’s God, or maybe something close to it – but I met it, and it was wearing a Johnny Cash shirt.