GOD INDIA by Sarah Helena

Oh, God India with your 4am japa mala parties, raving to mantras at sunrise as Surya embraces the temples’ rooftops each morning.

With your saffron robes and American swamis and Russian devotees and sweet milk prasad.

With your every street corner turning into a very public toilet. And your children touching me and crying for money when no “Hare Krishna” will satisfy their needs.

What they need I don’t know because I always had it. What they have I’d like to know because I feel that I need it.

Oh, God India with your colourful smells and your tuk tuk bloodstreams pumping the speed and the life and the vibrancy onto your dust heavy roads.

Where every hasty step needs to be considered with quick care for the holes and the flower garlands and the rubbish (oh, the rubbish!) and the spilled chai and the water being splashed by housewives in bright saris and the cigarette butts being flicked by vendors hungry for Western cash and the holy, holy cow shit which I use in my shampoo
oh, Govinda, all this drama–nothing’s hidden in the ancient scriptures, everything’s right there buzzing in front of my uncontrolled eyes, bewildered and enchanted, disgusted and attached, in need for a break, in need to go back!

Oh, God India with your warrior lovers and chasing Shiva on motorbikes as the Himalayas grow ears while I chant mantras out of fear of heights, thrilled by intoxicating rides–

I could have chanted even stronger but the driver was an emergency doc and besides, I wasn’t inclined to walk, so I cruised up those hills with face wrapped in shawl like a real Indian girl dreaming to discover the world.

Oh, God India with your millions of faces and manifold spices that you’re too shy to trust upon European tongues.
It’s the only time I’ve seen you timid.

Oh, God India where the fascist flags wave through the prayers of one of your holiest cities, as believers wash all worldliness off them, while Mother Ganga stays pure only in the soul.

And the monkeys digging for dinner through plastic bags by the Yamuna which, some believe, is cursed and cold.

Oh, God India with your vaguely locked ashram doors and phony cleaning boys knocking and whispering sex stuff in Hindi in the early hours between three and four, and by ten getting a beating by the manager.

God India twists all understanding of senses and honks’n’sees through the ears and bashes’n’speaks through the hands and watches the Lord’s pastimes through the heart. Here’s life’s incredible start.

I wash my hands in hot dal in a sandalwood mist, listening to a French man explaining the meaning of Ātman, as he inhales hashish under a “no smoking” sign–it’s Diwali and fire crackers bomb my mind into a restless sleep
I wake up in restful alertness during a day trip to consciousness, my teacher says it’s an ocean and the water is bliss.

Oh, God India with your mediocre sadhus getting enlightened by selfies with phones newer than mine.

Where tourists board the plane as yoga teachers, oh, God India this is your latest generation of preachers!

Who dedicate this incarnation to loving you, who grow by despising you and who stumble across your crowded streets and buses and trains in search for an answer, when all you’ve ever conveyed was that the answer lies within.

Oh, God India with your enticing mission to make me return and your invitation sculptured into a pretty boy’s smile–as you pull me back again, adding mile after mile after mile.

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