June 25, 1999
I have only enthusiastic recommendations for travelling in India! Months now after returning, after returning, the memory of its ginger-urine stench and its dark, probing, foreign eyes on cluttered streets are overshadowed by the hospitality and religious fervor of a people so different and so similar to who we are.
The Indian bartering system, comparatively relaxed pace of life, and arranged marriages affirmed my understanding that culture indeed does affect our interpretations of human interaction in this world, and have led me to continually reflect on how we are products of centuries of American thought and behavior. As a future teacher, this is a perceptive experience I have found others to be captivated in learning about.
Yet Indian culture, rich with chant and sparkling gurudwaras, temples and mosques, has taught me that no matter where we grow up, we have spiritual needs that are met in an overwhelming number of ways. To be put into another's culture and religious context is not ultimately to break down, but rather to expand what one already understands about the relationship between the self and God. Catching a confusing glimpse in three weeks of how Indians conceive of God warned me that God is really much larger than I can begin to understand.
India was a grand voyage, both physically and internally. Vicarious experience through picture books and Bhagavad Gita readings can take you only so far to enlightenment. So I am forever grateful for my courage to penetrate the boundaries of my comfort zone to withstand the complexity of this curried land (and my uncertain digestion!).
Here are pictures from Melissa’s wedding to Eric Carlberg (July 2003). One of the genuine gifts I have received from leading these trips is continuing bonds with the participants.
This is a big family shot, taken before the ceremony.
Here’s a more private moment long after the ceremony, when they are signing the wedding license.
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Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 5 Sept. 1999