How do you SoulStroll in a city with over ten million people, constant noise, traffic, pollution and poverty; yet paradoxically hosts greening trees, blossoming bougainvillea, an incredibly hospitable culture and people, delicious food, colors galore and fascinating history? You carry your soul and awareness with tenderness, and an open heart toward whatever may be.
Also, you pay very close attention to the logistical practicalities of crossing very busy streets: where rickshaws, motorcycles, trucks, buses and cars do not give you the right of way. You summon up a deep sense of bravery combined with powerful stature and maneuver your way, even with fake confidence, to complete the usual simple process of crossing the street.
As with SoulStrolling anywhere, at home or abroad, it helps to know a bit about the land, people and culture. If visiting India is on your ‘wish list’ then please take some time to read a few articles, travel books, blogs, or other media sources.
I am fortunate to be here for the fifth time, accompanying my husband and learning more about his work with www.usf.vc . This is a group of women and men who are dedicated to investing in startups who are innovating for the masses in India. They know how to work hard and celebrate well, kicking their heels up and dancing when the music starts.
I’ve laughed until almost crying while participating in a team building event involving solving a ‘fake murder,’ and chuckled to myself at recognizing the Indian head nod: a gentle back and forth motion that in Western Culture symbolizes, ‘No,’ but here translates to ‘Yes, Ok, Fine.’
There’s a familiar smell in the air igniting memories of rickshaw rides, laughter, confusion, strangeness, journeying with fellow adventurers, awkward clothing incidences, blisters and dirty soles. Passing by beggars and small children ignites an internal firestorm of emotion – there is no ‘simple’ answer. I’ve witnessed poverty and depression with a heavy heart. Tension, confusion and joy, journey along with my soul in consciously choosing to visit cities, countries, and communities where poverty and abundance live next door to each other.
I’ve been welcomed with warm smiles: ‘Hello Madame, may I help you? Can I get you anything? What do you need: tea, coffee, water?’ While simultaneously being harassed by the occasional rickshaw driver, ‘Madame, Madame, ride with me, I will show you the city, best deal, only 20 rupees.’
I’ve given my heart and eyes permission to see where my soul might be inviting me: new paths and friendships, the generosity of others, the privilege of citizenship, and beauty in the midst of dust, dirt, cracked sidewalks and stray dogs.
Where might your soul be nudging you to journey? How might you practice SoulStrolling on your next outing, be it home or abroad? What is your soul’s invitation?