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The Jungles of Jaipur

The dawn of meaning breaks outside the precincts of the humble Hathroi Fort. Lo, the sun! It stretches life into every disgruntled crevice of the defunctionalized…the dehumanized.

Two minutes into my walk, and I’m already preparing to take a self-placating leap into pity: I’ve summoned every thought; swallowed every feeling; sharpened every word. But as the confused combination of dirt, gravel, birch, and bottles throw my feet into a fit of contortions, my mind, too, undergoes a violent reformation in the successive steps of its thoughts.

Can things be or do they become in relation to me? If being is characterized by purpose (i.e., a door is insofar as it structurally allows for a bidirectional passage of entities), and purpose is then characterized by function (e.g., the horror of the senseless: the doorways of H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle that lead nowhere), and function is then characterized by process, and process is then characterized by causality, and causality is then characterized by the categorical associations of observation, and the categorical associations of observation are then characterized by consciousness, and consciousness is then characterized by–well, largely its uncharacterizability–but paradoxically, also, in being the slithering afterbirth of those very observations; in being, in other, still paradoxical, words, the door to experience that, on the one hand, is opened and ultimately closed by anatomical hinges, and, on the other hand, the Kafkaesque doorkeeper that itself stands in front of the world, then I can confidently claim–without a creak! of doubt–that my conception of Jaipur may be no less fantastic than the dreams of bugs.

How it seems, then, that the concise question  “So, how’s India?” is so fat with nothing! so infested with inertia! It’s one that, instead of pulling me to recount, humorously or insightfully, the discordant details of my days, hurls me off the summit of consciousness, into the prehistoric home of instinct. A fallen angel, all my answers are transformed into transgressions. What other fall is left, now that cynicism is sweet and sympathy seductive? Am I to decompose above ground–in the elevated, but no less infernal, place of my head–by aborting perspective?…No, I hate perspective so much that I will go on having it so as to go on hating it.

Just two minutes into my walk, I realized, somewhat to my relief, that every thought, feeling, and word was crude, cold, and mute. Two more after that, I realized again, now more abashedly, the lousy arithmetics that underpinned every calculated attempt, be that through waving off an ambitious auto driver or thanking a kind coconut wala, at connecting. The problem could be that I was suffering from seeing things through other things–that, in relating, I was actually discerning. I say “suffering” because it’s truly a disease–that of forming relationships–that is born with us, breathes with us, and burns with us. It makes us to cough up thoughts, makes thoughts to cough up words, until we perpetually choke on its chronic symptom: the world.

In traversing, more specifically, the modern jungles of Jaipur, however, the intellect becomes immobilized. In-between chokes, it relaxes its discerning grip and happily marries man with machine, spontaneous with automatic, organic with inorganic. An accidental victim of awe, I felt, for the first time since my arrival, a sense of, not simply being–a concept entirely predicated on the present–in India, or being in general, but that of having been. I felt myself mirrored here, in the flow of her fabric, and there, in the hollows of its crevice. In a final stretch of humor and insight, I felt, now disconnected from the staticism of the functionalized present, the warmth radiating from the connections that have been and will be.