Saturday, April 30, 2011

incredible india

Incredible India: It's a slogan coined by the tourism department that's supposed to entice people to the subcontinent. When I first heard it, I remember thinking, well, that's unoriginal. And...convenient. It seemed as though someone had looked up adjectives that start with 'i' in order to fashion a catchy little tag line.

But here's the's true. India IS incredible.

I can say this with a good amount of certainty after the aforementioned all-India trip. I am really just in awe of this incredible country. Whoever came up with the 'Incredible India' slogan wasn't just trying to use some elementary alliteration. Au contraire, they hit the nail right on the head.

The United States is diverse in the sense that one can find all kinds of people in almost any given place. It is truly a 'melting pot,' or, a 'salad bowl' as some would prefer to call it. With the exception of small towns (like New Wilmington, where Maggie is from- ha), one can expect to encounter people of various nationalities, ethnicities, religions, etc in almost any city or state.

India is diverse in a different way. In India, upon entering a new state, one might feel that one is in a different country altogether. Each state has its own language and is very unique compared to others. The population within any given state (with the exception of large, cosmopolitan cities like Delhi or Mumbai) is quite homogenous; cross a state line and cross into a different world. Language, style of dress, food, social norms, religion--all elements of culture--are drastically different from state to state. Kashmir is a Muslim state, while Kerala has the biggest Christian majority of any state. Someone from Tamil Nadu can't communicate with someone from Uttar Pradesh (unless they both happen to know some English). Goa is a Portuguese-influenced wild card. There is snow in Himachal Pradesh; Rajasthan is all desert. Foods in the south are rice-based; foods in the north are wheat-based. The saree, a garment found in most of India, is worn completely different in the north than in the south. The differences go on and on...

It is this diversity that I find so incredible about India. It's just vast, all that India contains. And at the risk of sounding like I'm being paid to write this (I'm not, I assure you), I think that India is a place that every person should visit. It has something to teach everyone.

In many ways a land of contrasts--a land of extremes--it was in those 'in between' places, caught among two or more opposing realities, that I found myself learning something or wondering at (meaning, being in wonderment at) this incredibly vast, incredibly diverse, incredibly beautiful place. The following posts will be some reflections on those contrasts; those 'in between' places.

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." -Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. Beautifully put, Madison. Glad someone from the other side of the world relishes the riches of this incredible country when a vast majority of its own citizens are conveniently oblivious to what a gift it is that they possess.

  2. Beautiful picturisation. I hope this will be really great for an Indian as it speaks of the pride and honor.