India in Squares
Having joyously returned from 19 days in India’s famous western state of Rajisthan I sit in my apartment and feel it’s palatial space. Not that anything is actually all that small in India, because if anything they live by “go big or go home”, but the sense of peace and the available thinking space feels so much broader now.
How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you describe a country on a page? It’s impossible really but it won’t stop me from trying.
By far my most outstanding memory will always be of that slow approach to the Taj Mahal. A testament to one very, very powerful man’s love for his wife. A catacomb, a resting place, a monument. I’ve travelled a lot and seen many buildings of many different styles and have often been taken a back by what human’s can achieve against gravity and time. Still, I don’t believe anything will take my breath away in quite the same way. The closer you get, the more you realise how epic the building really is. I’m not ashamed to say I was brimming with tears once inside. Not satisfied by a pure white marbled masterpiece the place is positively washed with fine gem inlay work and artistic carvings. There’s no doubting its place as a wonder of the world.
For me, Rajisthan was a story of conflict and contrast. Joy in colour, taste and music. Defeat in battle, poverty and corruption. I never seemed to get a stable footing in my understanding of how it is or was or will be, even though it was a task I took on readily. So I confined my view to squares, because sometimes you have to just hone in on what you can absorb. The corner of a beautiful table instead of the whole dilapidated room or the single woman in her colourful sari strolling down the street when behind me was a mass of congealed human traffic. And I think maybe this is how everyone tries to see India, in the single capture moments because otherwise you’d simply drown.
I became fascinated with doorways and entrances, mostly because I realised how much they were fascinated by doorways and entrances. In its purest sense they represent the beginning of something, but they are also the first thing you see and a chance to make an impression even if it’s not carried through. Often once we were inside the seemingly extravagant restaurant or hotel or shop it became quickly clear where money had been spent. But even still the product was always great! The tastes sensational, the fabrics luxurious and colours so vibrant they almost shine. Just don’t lean back on your seat or touch the walls. I started to learn that it wasn’t a lie just the most hopeful marketing. It made me smile. “Here is our best” they say loudly.
Whenever my mind wanders back I think of it all. The beauty, the frustration, the glory and the emotion. With distance it all feels more tangible, now that’s an oxymoron! But it’s true. Sitting here, in my two bedroom apartment, drinking masala chai from Jodhpur, I think I can see India more clearly. In little squares.
Written by Mekenzie Boylan