My Platonic Love
My Platonic Love
After being in a platonic and distance relationship for twenty years, finally last year I met the subject of my love. I went to India. My platonic relationship with India started when I learned about the enormous love that a man had for his wife. Love that made him build a stunning mausoleum in her honor, and I learned about a great man who fought colonialism with not violence, and I learned the amazing work that a wonderful nun did for the poor people in India. India’s people and India's contrast got my attention. I read about India; I ate Indian food; I tried to learn Hindi; I learned about Hinduism. I even dated an Indian man. The only thing that I was missing was visiting India. I finally went to India, and it was love at first sight.
I arrived in Mumbai, a city with 18 millions inhabitants, where a fusion of religions, odors, languages, races and cultures take place. No, I do not forget the extreme wealth and the horrendous poverty concentrated in the most emblematic season of India: monsoon. On my arrival, as soon as I put my feet out of the airplane, I saw a unique contrast: walking along the gate to customs was a group of Muslims, Hindus, Jewish, Christians, Tibetan monks, Buddhists and probably an agnostic; all of them talking at the same time, and I perceived that I could not understand a word of what they were saying. I stopped and I thought that this scene was surreal for me. I proceeded my slow walk, and I was concentrated in my thoughts when a new odor came through my nostrils. It was not a new odor; it was a merge of odors. I smelled human odor, curry, cinnamon, garlic, oranges, incense, and French perfume. All of these odors were like each one was looking for their own place in the humid and hot atmosphere.
My experience in India had just started, it was not even within an hour of my arrival, and I was experiencing all these contrasts. In customs, I saw many people from the Middle East. The men were walking in front, and the women were walking behind them. The women were wearing their burkas or their Burberry head scarfs and two beautiful and shy eyes were noticed through their burkas. Most of the women were carrying Louis Vuiton, Fendi, and Prada handbags, and some of them were wearing Monolo Blahnik, Gucci and Ferragamo shoes. It was a show of wealth, and only crossing the airport’s door to the street, my eyes hit the deepest contrast that I have ever seen in my life. I saw a group of bare feet girls, and none of them, I think, were older than six years old. These girls were begging. They were begging under the rain with smiles on their faces; smiles that an early age brings to a face. My sadness was filling up my broken heart, and the unfairness of the just seen sight put tears in my eyes.
Poverty has to be called a different word in India. I didn’t know that poverty could be that heartbreaking; what I was seeing and experiencing in India was completely different than what my experience with poverty was. On my way to the Taj hotel, I noticed entire families who were living in the streets. They made their shacks with hardboard, plastics, and pieces of wood. I was overwhelmed with the scene. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I saw people going through the garbage looking for food. Again my heart was broken. I needed to do something. I did not know what, but I needed to do something.
After arriving at the hotel, I decided to rest, but I couldn’t rest. I was so excited, overwhelmed, and my adrenaline was too high to sleep. I decided to walk the streets and learn more about my love. I did learn that few families are very wealthy in Mumbai, and most of the population just barely makes ten dollars a month. I decided to help. The next day, I was shocked when I learned that probably three hundred people were living in a well known shelter and I saw that many children were there, but it seemed that they did not have any stimulus; they did not have enough volunteers to help them. I volunteered for three hours the first day, and helped in healing my platonic love.
Even though poverty brought sadness to my trip in India, India is not a sad country. India is a happy country with its contrasts. It seems that Indian people have accepted their contrasts, and they live along with them. Maybe it was the monsoon season that made the people of Mumbai lethargic when I was there. I don’t know. I love India no matter what. My love is unconditional, and as a lover I will help the subject of my love and go back again to spend more time there. Like after the first date with a new lover, I walked away with a million questions, but with a great and profound love for the Indian people who still share their Naan and give a big smile to an outsider.