India Through the Lens: A Year of Memorable Moments Part 3

“Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road.”

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365 days of homestays, high altitude cycling, and beautiful landscapes throughout India (a second time).

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Turbans, Temples, and Traffic: Life in Amritsar

“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.”

Arriving in Amritsar, a large punjabi town that boarders Pakistan, was like arriving in Heaven. After leaving on a sour note six months ago I was wary to re-enter a country I considered unjust and evil. Instead of the hostile stares and harassment I was so accustomed to receiving in the East, I was welcomed in by the friendliest and kidndest group of Indians possible, the Sikhs. It wasn’t an “I want your money” friendly like in Nepal, or a “oh my God it’s a westerner lets touch her” like in many parts of India, but rather a “hey, we are an extremely open and friendly group of people who want to make you feel completely at home just because we can.” Seriously, every time I looked a bit lost on a street corner (something that happens a lot let me remind you) I immediately had a smiling man in a beautiful turban asking how he could be of service. And if he didn’t speak English, he immediately signaled someone else to come help as well.

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After visiting the Sikh temple one afternoon we decided to cycle through town at night in order to experience the beautiful grounds in the dark and at sunrise. We arrived just in time for morning prayer, after which everyone walked around the temple, prayed, bathed in the water, then proceeded to the free “kitchen” for tea. It was an amazing experience, in part because the buildings themselves are so beautiful, but also because the people were so welcoming. It was also astonishing how well everything worked. It was extremely clean (remember, this is India, things are NEVER clean)
and everything was run by volunteers meaning there was no money, power, or corruption involved. It was a utopia of sorts, the perfect example of a beautiful peaceful place for people from around the world to gather.

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I agree with the Sikhs on many of their principles- equality (they don’t believe in the caste system), women’s rights, and peace for starters, and visiting their town and temple has given me an even greater respect for them. Plus, this was the perfect way for Kevin and I to restart out trip after the last two months of dealing with his different illnesses (which, by the way, are officially cured). We were finally able to cycle around town, eat new and delicious foods, and enjoy ourselves at the farm house we were lucky enough to land on couchsurfing. Now we are back on the road, headed up to Jammu, another boarder town with Pakistan, which is predominately Muslim.

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