I did not understand Mahabharata until I was 10
All I knew, Ramayana was a department store where Mama’s groceries were spent
But kids in my neighborhood liked to watch those movies which people always danced
Mama said, “My grandfather is from that country”
I learned their names excitedly
Shah Rukh Khan was almost in every movie, and Kajol was really pretty
History was always the subject I was excited about
The world was always somehow connected, we know that without a doubt
And my country is where India’s influence also took part
India has always been a country I must see
From what we hear, It’s an intriguing history
You might know it from TV, but I’ve seen myself the city of Delhi
The smell of new place is always exciting. It was 90 minutes to midnight, I was running to the last metro as I did not want to pay extra money for taxi. I made it in, finally had the time to observe the locals. I’ve lived with them before, heard stories about their home, and always wanted to come visit.
The roads were always crowded. People honked the horn every damn time. And Every street dogs I saw were dirty.
But Jama’ Masjid was sublime during Friday prayer. The locals enjoyed their evening stroll around Chandni Chowk market. And Red Fort was really iconic.
I was not going to be blindsided by the unpleasant stories. All I knew was the gate of India was a landmark I must see. I ended the first night in Bangla Sahib, one of the most prominent Sikh house of worship. I might not be religious, but I always find seeing people praying as my one ritual – I find the beauty in it. Seeing people practice what they believe. The way they connect to God, to the universe. That’s not everyday’s scenery you can witness, especially these days.
I could see the tower of Qutb Minar from afar. I read from Wikipedia, it’s one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in India. It was crowded by tourists, many enough to bother me that I couldn’t get a clean picture like those other insta-celebrity. Haus Khas Village was another story. You see, a big beautiful lake and a medieval Islamic village facing each other. It’s a place where nature and architecture intertwine to be a civilization. I did not want to leave anytime soon and ended up watching the surreal sunset while enjoying cuba libre on one rooftop bar.
I traveled to four other cities just to come back to Delhi on the very last day. I have an old soul that made me did not really enjoy Lotus temple as it was too modern. But I could spend the whole day at Humayun’s Tomb that looked exactly like the red version of Taj Mahal, and I must say better – less crowded and overwhelming.
I left at midnight. I left not only beautiful memories but a self-satisfaction of how I could witness little parts of Big Nation that affected major part of Southeast Asia, including Nusantara.