In India, one is faced with the realization that in order to survive here, you have to love human beings a lot more than the average westerner. Indians, possibly due to necessity, are blessed with an unconditional love for humanity that binds them together. There’s an affection between people here that simply doesn’t exist at home. Maybe that’s the great Indian mystery that everyone here seems to be searching for. But there’s a darker side that we would soon witness on the highway; the harsh realities of a massive population living in difficult conditions results in an almost fatalistic attitude toward death. Western cultures have an innate fear of death. In India, they embrace it. Our fear of dying means that death is hidden away, tucked neatly out of sight, forgotten. Not so in Varanasi, where bodies are publicly cremated on the bank’s of the Ganges, the sacred Mother River. And even less so on the roads, where dying becomes a public act, played out in front of the unsympathetic masses.
Three crazy countries, three crazy cities, fifty million awesome people
In the past few weeks we’ve come from a world dominated by landscape, through a world defiled by human destruction and development, and now into a world that is defined, almost wholly, by the thickness of humanity itself. A place like this can only really be explained by its human relationships, and none of the other feelings we could describe (besides, perhaps, that of affection) actually matter. We recently biked away from Dhaka, by some accounts the densest city on earth, in a dazed state of reflection. I was still recovering from a high fever, and both of us suffered from the water. Happy to be on the road again and out of the chaos, but sad to be leaving our new friends and one of the most amazing cities that either of us has ever seen.