Jaipur clamors for my attention in a way that Mumbai did not. In Mumbai everyone is hurrying, but focused, determined to carry about their own business for the day. As a foreigner in Jaipur, everyone’s business seems to be concerned with soliciting mine. The bazaar merchants are loud, clamoring, even flirtatious—anything to get you to buy their wares. The irony is as soon as they attack it makes me want to move on. You can’t trust anyone, especially the auto drivers. They all have a hidden agenda. At the train station we called the hotel and waited for them to send their personal auto. If you hire one on the street they will take you to whatever hotel has enlisted their services regardless of where you say you want to go.
There were so many foreigners. I couldn’t help staring at their bare white legs and small tops without scarves; it’s so strange to my eyes. They were tourists. Never before had I felt so self-conscious of my white skin. I often sat and watched them drink their beer and smoke in the restaurants trying to imagine their stories, what would motivate them to come to this dusty, arid climate. And I often thought they couldn’t possibly understand the pulsing heart of the India I’ve come to love. For that, someone would need to take them out of the hotel and beyond the gates of a palace tourist attraction.
I struggled in Jaipur. I think it was because I saw a foretaste of what it will be like to return to Western culture, a preliminary pang of reverse culture shock. The city held a contrast of two lifestyles that I’m still not sure how to navigate between.
Paul wrote that he had learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance. He knew how get along with humble means and also how to live in prosperity. It strikes me that once you have learned the first, the second becomes more difficult.
India has been instilling in me a bit of aversion towards abundance. There are so many things I find I don’t need, don’t even want when the riches of God’s presence can be my portion. Yet even in this God is revealing layers of pride in my heart. Will you fill your heart with gratitude in scarcity, he asks, but refuse to thank me when I give you abundance?
Perhaps it is well that I am facing these questions now, so once the next three months are past and I begin to turn my face towards home, just maybe I’ll be more prepared to face the drastic change.