first thoughts on arriving in New Delhi, India, August 2013
How does one characterize a first visit to India? By asking the question, it suggests a willingness for a second, does it not? Can one step on India’s soil and not see another day without realizing in the moment when a life, your life, has changed?
I live in the United States and France. That was yesterday. To-day I pass on, I see them no more as I once did, and I am different, changed in some infinitesimal way. I can never be quite the same again.
A change can occur suddenly like a flash of lightning. It is stunning, but can be quickly forgotten. It can happen slowly, gradually, like a flower blooming, unfurling its petals. These changes are inevitable and meant to be.
Marcel Proust dreamed once of going to India: “He was asked by a newspaper how he would spend his last hours on earth if he knew that a great calamity was about to end his life. The novelist talked of three things: he would throw himself at the feet of Miss X, go to the Louvre and take a little excursion to India.” Worship. A pinnacle for art. Exotic.
Is India as Proust imagined it? Does it represent what I had imagined? India is changing. “It is not an underdeveloped country, but rather, is it not in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay?” wrote Shashi Tharoor.