I think we figured out that the cacophony of annoying music today was actually much more pronounced than it would otherwise be because there was a festival happening today. A lot of places were closed, and children were flying kites everywhere throughout the city. During the day Ken and I walked around the city and spent a fair amount of time trying to find out if we would ever see our luggage again. Just as I had made peace with the fact that I would have to buy all new clothing in some local stores (and wondering what the chic young sikh is wearing these days), I finally got a call through to Air India and they said they had located our bags. Mine was being sent from the airport by taxi to our hotel, but Ken’s was still in Delhi and they would be sending that along later tonight. At least, we hope they will, because we have an early morning train to catch. After the chaos of the city and our day, we finally got up the courage to visit the main attraction, the famous Golden Temple. It was really spectacular, and a fantastic contrast to the city and the day. It was a profoundly peaceful and welcoming place, and I was very happy we saved it for last and saw it by night, lit up as it was and casting beautiful reflections in the water that it sits in. My previous and current experiences among the Sikhs have always been warm, and I am impressed by many tenets of their faith and practice and their treatment of others.
It is 9pm at the moment, and about an hour ago, Ken and I noticed the sound of nothing in the air. All is quiet in Amritsar at the moment and we are relieved and at peace with all the world. Except Air India, that is.
So, no huge surprise, Amritsar is cold in winter. But I didn’t think it would be this damp. Everything is wet, and a thick fog pervades the city. And then there is the competing (from several sources at once), extremely loud, thumping music everywhere. This is the polar opposite of Japan, where Ken and I last were together. There, we were a bit weirded out by how silent it always was, even in large groups of people. But here, the opposite it true, there is loud noise of all kinds coming from every corner, and I think it says something interesting about the two cultures. In Japan, it seems that the silence is about a longing for order and simplicity in a crowded culture. Whereas here, I think that people are discomfited and disturbed by quiet. I think it makes them feel cut off, lonely, adrift and unmoored to the world, to the community, to the family.
To give you just a small taste of what we hear non-stop here:
Because the fog is so thick, Ken and I are waiting to go to the Golden Temple until a little later, we were told that it should lift by noon. We did take a short walk around this morning, and I could see from Ken’s face that he is a little shell-shocked by the experience of being here, so I am trying to be supportive. One of the great things about having been in India for so many months 7 years ago is that I am more or less prepared for how different things are here from the US, and I warned Ken that this was going to be a bit of a shocking experience for him, which it is. I just hope he doesn’t crack up before leaving the country a week from now.