We were lucky enough to have last week with our incredible program director, Christy. At one point, she mentioned something that has been on my mind quite a bit: India is a world of extremes. Many of my experiences so far have confirmed this insightful comment. I’ve made some observations in the past week that I wanted to share:
– There are places in Banaras that are eclipsed by piles of trash and areas where run down buildings or structures take up space in this bustling city. But, there are also places that are so incredibly beautiful. There are buildings with dazzling colors and artwork that you stumble upon in the streets and there are incredible temples and shrines on almost every street corner – each uniquely beautiful.
– Yes, there are the aforementioned piles of trash (though I have yet to find a street so far where garbage completely impedes utility) but there are even more places that are incredibly clean! The temples are spotless, and peoples’ homes are kept tidier than many I’ve seen back home (especially now that Diwali is coming up).
– There is a glaring wealth disparity in this city. There are both those who own entire apartment buildings and those who own little more than the clothes they wear everyday.
These extremes can, often I’ve found, be difficult to reconcile. Maybe it’s just that I am still adjusting to a city that is so different than what I’m used to. So, yes, I have definitely seen the extremes. I also feel, however, that I’ve seen even more of the in between. Banaras, from what I can tell, has a prominent working/middle class population as well as areas that are relatively clean (most streets are, I’d say). I, personally, struggle in confining India to the extremes (I know, though, that Christy was not saying it was just extremes). I definitely see a vibrant city that has the grey as well as the black and white and I can’t wait to discover even more shades of grey.