The bus rides are my favorite part about my time here in India. That might seem a little odd to some people because well it’s a bus ride, but every morning and every night I get to see the city of Mumbai, and it’s people, in a way that is completely my own.
I don’t have people shouting around me, the sun beating down on my back, horns swirling every which way (well that still happens, but I can’t hear them with my headphones in my ears) – it’s just me, my seat, and the view from my window. I reflect on the day I just had, and look forward to the day ahead of me. I know that I will be welcomed back to my air conditioned room with a comfortable bed, and a bottle of water – but what about all of the people I see sleeping on the streets as I stare out my window? With each passing slum I wonder what are the people who live there thinking? All I have ever known is luxury. I am fortunate enough to have parents who love and support me, and who provide me with everything that I need. Do the people living in the dirt and heat in Mumbai know any better? It seems that they must because there are so many billboards, malls, cars, and buildings surrounding them – built as if the people below don’t exist – it seems to me that it must be impossible for them to ignore the wealth around them, yet somehow I feel as if they do. The simplicity of the lives of the people I see as I look out the bus window, and the sobering effect it has on me is why I love these rides so much. As sad as it is to look out my window, and see such poverty I am overcome with humility, which is a rare feeling back in America. So, in my little corner on the bus I have found something so much greater than I could have ever expected to. I have a found a new source of inspiration in these nameless faces. Everything inspires me about these people. The families and children I see inspire me to respect everyone on a truly deeper level than I have ever before, they inspire me to cherish the people in my life, and to never take for granted the things I have been blessed with, they inspire to me share what I have seen, so that one day the next girl looking out the window might see a different Mumbai. Despite all of the heartache I have seen while in India, what inspires me most is how much joy can still be felt in the very heartbeat of the city.
The people of India are the warmest, and most infectious people I have ever met. Each day my spirit is renewed by their kind heartedness, and passion for life. As a film student studying Bollywood film, I have learned that song, and the passion of the Indian people are one and the same. Without exception every moment of an Indian’s life is celebrated with song – from birth to death, and everything in between. On Friday night, I was lucky enough to share in this part of Indian culture, and dance in a Bollywood item number. One of the lyrics from the song we were dancing to, “Lungi Dance,” says “Don’t miss your chance,” which I decided to use as the heading for my blog post because my time in India has taught me that you have to push yourself, and take every single adventure that comes your way. The only way to grow holistically as an individual is to never stop fighting. When I first got to India I was really afraid because of how outside of my comfort zone I was. Now, I can’t imagine my life without having had this experience.
The other night my classmates and I were walking the tiny lanes of Veronica Road (a predominantly Christian part of India) where we suddenly found ourselves being beckoned to sing, dance, and celebrate in the streets. Without knowing why this celebration was happening we all joined in. All of these strangers from opposite sides of the planet were sharing a moment of complete and total joy, and it was magical. We later discovered that we had stumbled upon a Marati wedding, and true to Indian fashion we were welcomed with open arms. Had I not pushed through my fear of being somewhere so new I would have never had this memory to stay with me for the rest of my life.
Earlier, that day we ate lunch at Juhu Beach where, you guessed it, we were once again welcomed with open arms. This was a truly surreal experience for me because I have never experienced so much attention from anyone (let alone strangers) before in my life! As we stood there ordering our popsicles, I was approached by one onlooker who wanted to take a picture with me. Before I knew it, everyone around me wanted my picture! It was overwhelming and exhilarating all at the same time. Later that day we went to visit Salman Khan’s house, an extremely revered Bollywood actor, so loved that people stand out his house day in and day out hoping for a picture. Yet, you would think I was the celebrity there because again everyone wanted a picture with me! What intrigued me even more was that people also wanted me to take their picture. To see how excited they were to have me point my big, bulky black camera at them, and feel the flash go off in their face was so interesting to me. The whole day made me happy. It was a cool feeling knowing that just by being in a picture, or by taking a picture (both great souvenirs for me) I made someone smile.
Each day I spend here I realize so much about myself, and learn so much about the world. I can’t wait to see what makes me smile next.