From the outside it might look like I am an artist and it’s also starting to look like I might be a missionary. But I am neither. But what I am is me, plain and simple, simple and plain. I’m just being me, who I was created to be. I don’t have a career and I don’t have a plan, I’m pretty cool with that. I’m wandering around arriving in places by divine accident. So I am not a missionary, I’m just a Christian doing life.
And I’m definitely not an artist. I don’t dislike artist but I don’t like the ‘idea’ of the artist in it’s separation from the craftsman. In the separation of art and craft, art decided to take assumed superiority by claiming the concept, the ideas and meaning, carried all the importance while the skill of the craftsman was believed to be inferior by the artist. Art got pretentious and snobby while craft was pushed aside. Hence I am a designer, in happy medium between ability to conceive ideas and to create. I am a designer with no pretext. The meaning of purely being a designer is completely up for grabs which sits pretty well with me.
Since arriving in India when I’m on the move, if I’m not travelling previously unimaginable amounts of time on trains, I’m in an auto rickshaw. As my confidence and use of the maps in my lonely planet have increased I have walked more instead of getting an auto. I have always liked to walk, instead of taking public transport, even when at home in London. Walking gives you time to just be. It slows you down. It lets you think. It lets you see what’s around you.
Being in India everyone seems to always take auto’s instead of walk. Walking seems to be the transportation of those who can’t afford an auto. Choosing to walk seems to be a foreign concept. Or out of the question, in some minds, as it surely couldn’t be safe enough for a westerner to walk around, especially as a woman. Which seems to be an annoying part of western culture that journeys along with us until its challenged. This companion we are taught to take with us everywhere is fear. Fear of something bad happening. Fear of it not being safe. Fear of it not being sensible. Fear of the unknown.
And yes walking has its draw backs its hot and sticky and dusty…and especially if you have suntan lotion on that all the dust will stick to you. And yes I have had, what I see as a luxury, the opportunity to be a lone traveller where I have had no choice but to face things head on, balanced beautifully with wonderful people who have been more then willing to help give me a gentle entry into India. This has given me my confidence. I am completely aware that i would feel different if I had no place within India to call home and no Indian based friends to support me which is the case for so many travelers within Indian.
But still I would recommend to people to walk. Experience India in all its vibrance. And especially, experience it in its everydayness. While you walk you observe from the inside instead of being a more distant observer. The photo above was one that I took while walking. Yet another place that I had no plan to see yet brought depth and colour to my picture of India. When you walk around you can’t help but see India for what it is. And when I’ve been here longer I still want to keep walking because like describing walking in London its not just about seeing. It will be a space to slow down and to just be in a country that seems to never stop moving.
Since the 6th of December I have been in India. What was meant to be a 2 month trip to explore this amazing country has become a 5month trip and possibly my home for at least the next year or two in September. Falling in love with India was not something that crept up on me, instead it was instant. My heart was captured and India isn’t letting go!
What interested me about India when I was a child was the wonderful craft objects that come out of India, and also the colour and vibrance. But this is not how I ended up in India it was purely through the opportunities offered to me by the connections of a friend who had spent a year in India…a convenient travel opportunity to travel.
Since arriving in India I have had many rich experiences. One of the most special was having dinner with a women and her daughter and grandchildren thanks to a my friend Merete who had been invited and took me along too. Her home is not in a slum but more a semi permeant home like that of shanty towns yet it still could be demolished as it has no legal right to be there. She opened her heart and her home to us, cooking a beautiful meal. Something she said will never leave me and neither will the promise I made to myself as a result of it. She said you eat our food and drank our water and everyone else who comes on outreach will always refuse, even other Indians. I understand that people are concerned about illness…it’s not exactly fun i know! As she said this it so touched my heart. Out of the fear that is so prominent in western culture we create barriers that are broken when we are truly willing to treat others as equals putting aside fear. I promised myself that whether I got ill or not now or in the future, which I didn’t, I will always share food and water because these people matter. I want to share the love that I know and equality that the bible so clearly speaks of. With so much discrimination and lack of the simple right to have the dignity to be treated like anyone else absent in India left over from the Caste system which is meant to now be illegal and extreme imbalance between rich and poor, I will not be a art of it.