A Wander in India from December 2012.
A devoted hand reaches toward the bell at the temple entrance.
The clang reverberates, and its sound is meant to shed the mind of its preoccupations, to focus the follower on the here, the now and the sacred.
I had toured several temples, but they all felt beautifully sterile. I listened to guides discuss the rituals and the reasoning behind architectural details, and though I was immensely grateful to behold such places, I had little connection to their sacred purpose until sitting beneath a ringing bell and these colorful canopies in Mumbai.
Our guide to Mumbai was beautiful with her large, dark eyes, flowing long hair, thick, perfectly arched eyebrows and elegant crimson sari. Beyond her outward beauty, she radiated with an inner compassion, respect and joy for her people and her city. She didn’t point out temple details as if identifying an index in a book; she walked us through the rituals. She didn’t just tell us about Hinduism; she said a prayer for us. For the first time, I saw the real beauty in people trying to be better people.
In Hemali, I saw a woman who valued a career, independence and her potential. It was a breath of fresh air in a nation where I was often blatantly ignored because I was a woman, and my male companion was assumed to be the authority. I also saw a woman who valued her role as mother and supported her daughter’s ambition so wholeheartedly.
Though I recall the welcomed warmth of India in December, the cold marble on bare feet and the overwhelming detail of the temple, what might have stuck with me most is a telephone call from a daughter to her mother. The daughter had been elected class representative, and her mother beamed with pride.
A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!
ps: If you’re planning a trip to Mumbai, you can book a tour with my lovely guide here. I highly recommend her!