I’ve been waiting for a perfectly “Yak-worthy” moment for a few weeks now – a moment where something out of the ordinary happens (by “ordinary” I mean this new ordinary, my life in Varanasi, which I never imagined I could get used to), something quintessentially “Indian,” whatever that means, from which I can extract some pearl of meaning or understanding, or which I can use to symbolize my evolution as a Dragons student, world traveler, and eighteen-year-old far from home – perhaps some bizarre encounter with a cow on the street (I’ve had a few), or an enlightening conversation with my homestay family, or an instance of frustration with a rickshaw driver that teaches me a lesson about patience, or maybe even a run-in with an angry monkey. I have been waiting to be struck by some greater realization about the world I inhabit but when the time came to write a Yak, no such moment came to mind.
I’ll instead share a much simpler moment: on a hot Sunday afternoon, I sat alone by the open window at quiet Aum Cafe, sipping tea and writing a letter home, the bustling city’s motorcycle and rickshaw honking far enough in the distance, my only disturbance the occasional moo of a cow in the alley below. I was relieved by the calmness in the air. Peace like that is rare in this city. Much of my time here has felt chaotic and fast-paced as I push myself to explore and experience as much as I can. I am learning, however, that I can slow down and find some peace; I just have to decide to take a deep breath, maybe chant an “aum” or two, and seek it out for myself. This lesson is much less exciting than a monkey attack, but important nonetheless.