Well here we are again.
India and ashrams are excellent places to be during periods of change. Sometimes they can prompt change, and other times they can cement decisions, enable transitions, ease saying goodbye, and be foreign enough environments to somehow encourage the ordering of thoughts and feelings.
I’ve been in India for a few weeks now, as I transition away from my life in Bangladesh, and settle myself in preparation for my life in Melbourne.
And Oh! I am so looking forward to coming home.
I am appreciating having the time to process some shit, let go, and get myself back. I’m saying goodbye to Dhaka Caroline. And it feels good.
I’ve been in the north; in the mountains of Himachel Pradesh. Whenever I think of India, I invariably turn my mind to this region. I longed to go somewhere familiar, easy, and cold. Dharamkot is up the mountain from Dharamsala, up past McLeodganj. It’s a small village populated with Israeli hippies. It’s super chilled, and spreads across the side of a pine forest covered mountain. Corn crops grow on small tiers between the paths and scattered buildings.
It’s a relief to be here, with this new lightness that I am still getting used to. The lightness that comes with expectation of good things, and with the knowledge that whilst quantities of grit have been developed, things are getting easier, brighter, happier.
Now I’m in Kolkata, enjoying Bengali culture in a more developed, opulent and freer setting. The history of this city is closely tied to that of Dhaka and Bangladesh. When India was separated into India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) in 1947, there were 14 million displaced persons. A huge influx of Hindus fled East Pakistan to Calcutta. The conditions were beyond comprehendible horror, and so many starved to death or were killed by violence during the migration and time of displacement. The difficulties climaxed during the Liberation War of 1971: genocide by the Pakistani military of abhorrent violence and volume, and the systematic campaign of genocidal rape prompted millions of Bengalis to flee to India.
I don’t want to dwell on the relatively recent violent past of Bangladesh, but it is important. These things inform and shape the society. This history is still in living memory.
I’m glad for my experiences in Bangladesh, and now I’m content to say goodbye and move on to better coffee.