As I made my way out from the airport, I made a mental note of the fact that I should brace myself for the changes. Well, I had not visited India for the last three years, and all that I could gain about India was from the different websites and inputs from my friends who had traveled back home during this period. There is always a sense of apprehension and fear as you prepare to face what you do not want to face. There is a fixed image of the country in your mind, and for heaven's sake, you want to see it that way. You want to see certain changes, and at the same time, you do not want to see a wholesale of them. Life is strange in the sense that you want to adapt to the changes but without the knowledge that you are actually reacting to the change.
I walked out on the road with not a trace of unfamiliarity. They were the same roads, the same muddy pools of water, and the cracks on the roads did not breed any sense of contempt from my side. The waywardness of life did not stump me, for India is the place where the uncertainties in life somehow help you find a firm footing. People are beset with a lot of problems, yet, manage to find the right solutions to move ahead. This certainly is one of the greatest characteristics of the people of India. I sat as a pillion with my father maneuvering (Googled the word, but still unsure about the spelling!) the bike as though he was trying to escape some sort of meteors in a sci-fi movie. Initially, it was scary, but after a point, you realize that this is the only way to beat the traffic here. At all times, the travel seems unsafe, and you feel it is some sort of miracle once you reach the destination safely. But, actually, you realize that there is nothing miraculous about it. Now, I was feeling queasy, as I was being hit with a different question Has India changed or have I changed?
It was funny as I went to a shop nearby, and as I entered the shop, I noticed two people at the counter, attending to five different customers at the same time. I was wondering how I could get my job done. So, I merged with this imaginary line and almost magically, after a few minutes of wait, I was attended to by one of the two attendants. Well, that's how things work in India. In US, people would automatically align themselves in the order of arrival, but in India, the haphazardness is brought to an orderly fashion by something that is inbuilt in us. It is just the way we are brought up.
In India, there just cannot be something called as solitude (well, that's what some of the foreign aficionados would say), but I prefer to call it loneliness. It was a treat to catch up with family friends, and old timers, who sport a big beam as soon as they see you. Take a walk on any street, there would be a known face, and they would make it a point to inquire in what state you are (may be sarcastic as well!!). But, one of the good things is that, as you walk on the street and meet a fellow Indian, you would not have to sport that weak smile and hope to receive an acknowledgment. Here, everybody is a fellow Indian. What a realization!!!
As I continue my stay in India, I have to reiterate that, come what may, for all its faults, I just cannot hate India. I may be biased, but this is one of the issues where I feel it is not all that bad to be biased!!!