Silence is not golden


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.