I remember how nervous I was before I went off on my big Indian backpacker adventure all alone. I hate to pack bags and I am really not god at it. I had no idea what to take with me and wanted to keep my luggage as small as possible, so I asked all the experienced backpackers I knew for advice. The wisest answer I ever got was:
“The only thing you actually need is PATIENCE, everything else you can buy there”
–What a big truth-
Still, after having lived here for years, I look up to the sky at least once a day and sigh “God, please give me patience!”
If you are an impatient or restless person, this is the right country for you to turn into the master of patience!
It is very simple: Or you go with the flow or you go completely nuts! Soon you learn that getting angry and fighting against the natural rhythm of things will not help at all. The only thing that such reactions will lead to is physical and mental exhaustion.
For me the best way to cope with all the craziness is what I ended up calling “Maya-meditation”. Every situation holds a perfect opportunity to meditate, even if you never practiced any meditation before.
What do we do when we meditate? We observe.
Meditations are all about observation; we observe our thoughts, our breath, our emotions, our reactions and try not to judge what we see.
In my Maya-meditation I do the same, but with open eyes and in any pose and place. It helped me to deal with all the intense and uncommon impressions you take in during the day, and there are a lot; some are obviously visible and some simply sneak into your subconsciousness without noticing it.
Example Situations that required some of my extra patience:
- I sit in a small restaurant and just ordered an Indian breakfast. I understand that things go a little more slowly here; so I relax and go through the books on the shelf. After about 40 minutes the cook comes out of the kitchen; without my breakfast. Instead he jumps on his bike and off he goes. I ask the guy behind the counter where the cook went. “Ohhh, he just going to buy curd for making your breakfast”
- My purse broke and I want to buy a new one. On the bazaar I see one I like. I ask the shop-wallah to show it to me. It is ripped. “Don’t you have another one?” “Yes, Madam. One moment”. He disappears in the depths of his little shop. After a long time he comes back with a big smile. “Madam, this very nice for you!” I look at it and say: “It’s a belt”. “Yes, Madame, this your size. Very nice!”. “I don’t need a belt, I want to buy a purse”. “Yes Madame, this belt very nice, you try”. I turn around and leave.
- Finally I made it to the cyber cafe and almost finish a long e-mail I wanted to send since weeks. Power cut. Email lost. I wait some time for the electricity to come back, but eventually leave. I arrive in the guesthouse. Light is back.
- Waiting! Waiting in general for something to happen or for something to stop. I think I spend at least 60% of my time waiting in someway for something or someone.
- Traveling in public transport. Well, this subject definitely deserves its own chapter…
Sometimes things here are so easy and just go the way they should. But occasionally things get stuck and become pretty complicated. Every time I found myself in a challenging situation and thought
“Oh, things can only get better, just keep on breathing”,
life laughed down at me and things actually happened to get even more than worse, although the present situation had seemed to be unbeatable. Well, this kind of experiences can make your patience really grow!
Most of the situations that demand a lot of patience though are also the funniest ones. Once the tension has passed you will laugh so much about what happened. If you want an easy trip without any complications, don’t go backpacking, better take a “boring” package tour!
I think everybody who has been backpacking through India changes in someway. Some love it, some hate it; but one thing is for sure: it will not leave you indifferently and your limit of patience will have at least doubled.