Oh, magnificent India. The highest highs, and the lowest lows. I am here for my third time. First, in 2005 for two weeks with an introduction to Delhi, Agra, and Rajasthan. The second time found me filming my documentary, Hit The Road: India, for over six weeks. And now, I am back again. This time in the north-east state of Assam for a quick visit before I cross overland to Bhutan.
I have always said India stands alone in its own unique category. India is a conglomeration of the most incredible experiences, and some of the most challenging times. I believe everyone has a breaking point in India. Sometimes, it is day one, for others in a month, and maybe a year for others. But everyone, at some point breaks. You can not handle it any more, and you need to leave.
The noise, the traffic, the smells, the poverty, the food sickness. The people. Masses of people, coming at you in waves. Sometimes it can be too much. There is no room, no space.
I spent two nights in Shillong, a hill station, that wraps around green hills. The roads are too small, and the cars too many. A cage match of cars, buses, trucks, tuktuks, cows, bikes, motorcycles, and people joust with each other, attempting to propel themselves forward. To travel by car for five kilometers might take an hour. If you know India, you are familiar with the incessant beeping. After several days, the horn beeping blends into a harsh, white noise. Your patience wavers between acceptance and bristles in unbridled anger. But you sit. And sit. And wait to move.
But India has a gravitational pull that you cannot avoid. I could (and can) spend 10 hours in a local market, simply watching life pass by. The colors and sounds. The diversity of people and activity.
I spent some time in the Bara Bazar in Shillong. No special or different than many other markets in India. Yet, it is a compelling experience, simply to stand to the side, and watch life.