The essence of India

There’s a certain aroma to India. It cannot be described, only felt. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to catch a whiff from an old suitcase, or a kurtha lying around. As a child born in India, this aroma brings about memories of playing on the streets, eating chaats at roadside vendors, and fighting through Bangalore traffic. I have been fortunate enough to experience this every year since I was five, embarking on 20-hour flights halfway around the world.

As the years have gone by, I have changed, and so has India. Gone are the days when chaats were five rupees a plate. Gone are the days when the suitcases I used to haul to India towered over me. One hundred rupee note would pay for enough rasmalai to suffice for a week. Perhaps my appetite grew, or times have changed, but one-hundred rupees of rasmalai is not enough anymore.

The thing I miss most about India are its streets. The uneven, asphalt paved roads that wound throughout Bangalore. As a child, these streets served as my playground. Everyday, I would partake in classic Indian games such as ‘Lock and Key’, ‘ I Spies’, ‘Lagori’, ‘Hide and Seek’. More often then not, we would invent our own games, the product of our imaginative minds. But how could I mention Indian games without mentioning the most famous of all? Cricket. The potholes and other blemishes in the roads turned every bowler into a spin bowler. A simple toss landing on the uneven surface resulted in the greatest wickets, much to the dismay of the batters. Anil Kumble would have been proud to see our renditions of the art of bowling.

It is clear that India has left a great mark on me. One look at my knees, and it can be easily deduced that I enjoyed my time on those streets. But the scars on my knee are not the only marks; India has also left a mark on who I’ve become. The great American author Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “India is, the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” Truly, India has grown since Twain’s praise. I can, without a doubt, agree with Twain, and say that I am proud of Mother India.

Written by Vishruth Girish



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