I have been tied up doing book reviews and getting back to my juvenile novel, but I am not finished with India, and India is not finished with me.
Everytime I go to India, I am struck by contrasts. India at present is bustling with new prosperity, even as it addresses age-old problems of poverty and over-population. In the countryside villages, the pace is slow and peaceful, but the cities offer more opportunity, so nearly every large city is impacted by a population greater than the city's original design. With the new affluence, you have marvellous new buildings next to old ones in need of repair, and much of the infrastructure is over-taxed. The traffic, alone,is a wild, musical bedlam experience that deserves a blog of its own.
Still, India's age-old virtues are still alive and well. I have often said that the people are India's national treasure. Spiritual strength permeates the culture, along with the spirit of giving. Long ago I had to learn not to be so admiring of everything: Thinking to be friendly, I would compliment someone with "That's such a pretty...," and immediately the object would be mine! It doesn't stop there, though. If you visit an Indian home, you are served delicious treats that are truly "suffer cooking" and hovered over as if your personal care is their aim in life. And whether the gift is fruit, a flower for your hair, or turmeric for health and luck, you never leave a home empty-handed.
The ethic to give and to give back was reflected in all the ceremonies at the reunion. It's one thing to honor with speeches, but every speech was accompanied by gifts. It's one thing to clap for a wonderful performance, but every ovation was accompanied--again--by gifts. And, of course, the alumni association was simply amazing in how far they carried "giving back" to the university that nurtured each person's talents. I'm still filled with the wonder of it.