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India: A Vibrant Change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the MV Explorer approached the port in Cochin,  I could tell it was a place like none other we had visited along our journey. Although still in Asia, it was easy to see how things in India had a flavor of their own, like a mysterious gem that was waiting to be discovered. People wore bright colors like fuchsia, aquamarine, and gold, and they were constantly in contact with each other. The perceivable aura of love that surrounds India goes well beyond just people, as I came to learn later in the trip, since it is tied to their belief in Hinduism. Due to the belief in reincarnation, they constantly strive to treat others the best they can, as you never know what or who you’ll become in your next life.

I witnessed this phenomena with my own eyes first while in Jaipur, when I saw a man with no shoes spend the money I had just given him on food for the birds on the street. When I asked him about it, he replied with confidence saying that one of them could be his mother. As we continued to walk around town, we were shocked by the amount of cement bowls that were out on any given street. As we later found out, these were filled with water for animals to drink, particularly cows, as they are believed to be sacred. Here, cows, monkeys, camels, and birds all live on the streets of major Indian cities alongside humans, and they are treated with respect, love, and acceptance.

Juliette Chevalier, visits the Taj Mahal while exploring India on the Spring 2015 Voyage

Far removed from the sweet and sour food of past countries, we entered a new world of spices and hot sauces, where “mild”is in fact heavily spiced and “spicy” seemed unbearable. This cultural sense of magnification was also perceived in the markets, where every design was packed with different colors and patterns, making every umbrella, couch cover, purse, and textile authentic and unique. Veronica Von Wachter, a Venezuelan student from University of Miami, explained the vibrancy of the markets, “coming from the US, I found myself not being able to buy just one of anything, because of how beautiful and inexpensive everything was compared to back home”.

For me, India marked a transcending point in the voyage, as it marked the middle of a journey that has already forever impacted my life. I believe the Spring 2015 staff photographer, Evan Meyer, said  best when he discussed his student voyage, “I was pushed out of my comfort zone so much, that I no longer have a comfort zone”. As we sail on towards Africa, with a new understanding of Asian culture, I realize India has taught me that the world is not only ours to see, but really ours to grasp, and our time is now.

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