When I think of India, I think of dark eyed beauties,
their foreheads painted with decorative red dots,
and I see them moving deliciously in beautiful bright costumes
as bangles dangle from their slender wrists.
When I think of India, I think of a culture steeped in history and tradition:
folkloric music, myths, and dance, and the influence of the Hindu religion.
I visualize the rich and poor alike bathing themselves in a river called Ganges.
I see an olden time when mighty elephants, colorfully decorated,
carried men atop their backs on elegant elephant seats,
and I recall pictures in my geography studies of the white sacred cows
freely roaming the narrow streets of Delhi.
I recall a novel I read: Rudyard Kipling’s engrossing tale of a jungle boy
and also other novels depicting a clash of cultures
as the British imposed their rules on Indian society.
I think of current movies showing the seedy side of India
such as one named Slumdog Millionaire and a movie to contrast it,
the romantic Bollywood delight named JabTak Hai Jaan.
Furthermore, I recall the grace and good nature of the Indian people
depicted in a film called The Best Ever Exotic Marigold Hotel.
When I think of India, I think of the Taj Mahal, Kama Sutra, and curry,
and also I recall horrible stories of Bride burnings now banned and by contrast,
the good works of Mother Teresa, who labored there among the poor, and
I think of the man who is probably the most recognized by Americans
as a good and strong example of leadership: Mahatma Ghandi.
All these things are the sum of what I have learned about India in my lifetime.
But what do I really know of India?
What I have learned recently relates to poets I have come to know at this website
and who have shown me through their poetry and their communication with me,
a more personal side of the Indian people that I never used to know.
Through the poetry of Ravindra I have learned the love of an Indian for his heritage
and how he emulates his father‘s work through beautiful translations.
From poets like BL and Jag, I’ve learned more about
the deep and philosophical nature of the Indian poet!
Through great friendships with people like Kashinath, Yesha and Yasmin, and Guatami
I have come to learn about the actual personalities of dear Indian people
whose life experiences, struggles and desires are not so different from my own,
and also I am able to enjoy their eloquent words as they describe
their own emotions, passions, and love of nature through their poetry.
Perhaps their culture adds a flavoring to their words and phrases
that is a bit different from my own,
but in the end, we are all alike beneath the skin.
Whether from India or any other country, we are, all of us,
becoming a part of a global community
in which our differing backgrounds can be accepted
and even better - celebrated!
Thank you I say to all my poet friends whose words enrich my life,
but in particular, today I thank my friends from India,
for helping me to really see how beautiful you are
and to understand your country better through knowing YOU.