Kolkata - beauty and respect

Wow.  I am back from the Spiritual Adventure in North India that took me physically from Kolkata to Delhi and took my emotions and senses on a wild ride! There is so much to share with you all - I experienced so much beauty and transformed my thoughts and perspectives.  I am inspired, full of gratitude, and in awe of India and the people that make it so colorful.

I will start with Kolkata (or British "Calcutta") where my journey began:

On the first full day of India, some old pals from the Jane's House of Well-Being yoga community and I booked an early morning guided tour of Kolkata. I felt undeniable tension that morning - there is a very strong cocktail of emotions mixed in your body when you first arrive to India. The anxiety, ultimately due to fear of the unknown (are we safe? will we get sick? are we welcomed here?), seeped to the surface a few times before being jammed back down by excitement (OMG OMG OMG we are in INDIA!).

Our guide, Manjit, made my resistance of a guided tour (my nature is to roam when traveling) dissipate really quickly - he was obviously completely intoxicated by his own city and excited to share it with us.  We walked down the bustling and noisy streets to a quieter area where people were just getting started with their days.  A few brushed their teeth on the side walk and folded up their blankets.  The Chai tea makers boiled their pots, and the food stands billowed their spicy smoke.  People were curious of us, but not curious enough to break their daily rituals.

Early morning Chai brew

As we walked along the streets and heard from Manjit the history of British colonization and how India as we know it really began here in Kolkata, we snapped pictures of obliging colorful people, dogs, and architecture.

The city was beautiful - even with the constant barrage of loud horns from the heavy traffic of buses, cars, trams, tuk-tuks, goat herders, taxis.  It felt calm among the chaos.  The people seemed content and peaceful.  The dogs lazily napped in the busy roads as cars honked and swerved around them.  The way Manjit excitedly pointed out the next photo opportunity or place of historical importance made me realized how much the people here loved their city.

My suspicions of an honest and peaceful people of India were proven when we came upon an elderly, partially disabled money changer.

Money changer in Kolkata

For over 26 years this gentleman has changed money for others.  He has bags and bags of Rupees laying all around him.  He has no security officer.  He has no weapons.  He sits here amidst unfathomable poverty and not a single time has been robbed.

Let that sink in for a minute.... How long do you think this money changer would last un-robbed in any other city?

There is trust and respect in Kolkata.  The people are kind to each other and their animals.  They loved having their picture taken and wanted to know where we were visiting from.  The people love their home and welcomed us into it.  Thank you, Manjit, for showing us your city.

India, after Kolkata, my fears were gone, only excitement remained.

The adventure continues...