On long trips, I carry some baggage that I have to shake away. Residues of worry stuck in my head, like hard bits of chewing gum stuck in my hair that don’t wash away with the shampoo. Habits of worry from when the children were little and lived with me.
Anxiety in my studio and workshops can be even more demanding than children. A state of peace is my birthright. I have begun to understand that and I have started claiming it. Minute by minute, moment by moment. Typically, I chat with everyone who makes eye contact with me. The smiling steward from Munich, the more reserved Italian woman returning from her third trip to India, amongst many others.
What I never get tired of is hearing what ‘gets to’ them about India. What is it about my country that makes “foreigners” get weak-kneed and lose their minds and hearts and have these “life-changing experiences?" I quiz them like a pro. I have been doing this for years. And each time I slip their answers into that treasure trunk in my heart, it feels light like a thousand-watt light bulb.
We wade through the ‘love Rajasthan’ and the ‘colours of India’ and ‘keeping traditions alive’. It’s a necessary warm-up. Then we get to ‘elegance of the Indian women’ part. I smile and accept the compliments on behalf of my country’s women. Now we are close. I will know soon now. The essence of my country has the power to intrigue, captivate and mesmerize. More than that, my friend. We can turn our perspective and everything we have known about ourselves and the world on its head.
Yes, they tell me about the people on the streets, about how it feels. I repeat how it feels to participate in the lives of other human beings. How the poor of this country- and this part makes my heart soar with pride- rarely have angst towards the rich. There is this acceptance and even a decent happiness quotient.
To me, this is it. Can I bottle this learning and pour it on my morning muesli? Or add it to my jasmine-scented body lotion and massage it into my pores? Or market it in hot pink bottles with tired names like ‘Shanti’ and ‘Nirvana’?
Hopefully, one day!