First off, I really do apologize for the lack of posts lately, but as you may know, it is college season.
The last week had been a little break from work, where I had the opportunity to explore the north of India, from New Delhi to Agra and Bhopal.
What I’ve come to realize over this trip is that I have been thinking less philosophically from 9th grade to now. Looking back at my earlier blog posts, they were deeper and pertained more to the “big questions,” who are we, why are we here, and the like. So what I wondered was, why?
Walking through the Golden Temple, which is the most religious and spiritual place for the Sikhs in India, I was at a loss. This place was so significant to so many people here, who would come from across the country just to wait in line for an hour to see a copy of their Holy Book and last guru, and yet all the talk between my friends and I were, “this place is really pretty.”
And this conflict, this indifference to the very significant places we went plagued me. What tours lack is giving the tourist more than just a superficial knowledge of a place, of what its built from or of dates, but giving the tourist a glimpse at what the place means to the locals who visit it.At another place, the Taj Mahal, which I had thought to be a place where one went to discover oneself, and come to some great truth, what I found instead was only a physically attractive, photogenic monument. I, just like in the Golden Temple, felt nothing.
However, it was towards the end of the trip, at the site of the Union Carbide factory remains, which is much more demure than the Taj Mahal, that something shook me. It was as if by walking through the overgrown, rusted remains of the factory, with its creaky towers and overlapping pipes, I was waking up from a slumber. It’s so easy to stay on “automatic,” of taking pictures of significant surroundings and taking selfies, and going to India with an idea of what it would be like and coming back with your views unchanged. However, for me, walking through a sight where an event that caused 25,000 people to die, I felt more of a connection From such deadly events, beautiful things can still grow. The factory is now overgrown with weeds and beautiful nature; butterflies and flowers perch beside metal tanks. The site is bittersweet, because the fight for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy is still going on, and yet if one stumbled upon this place without knowing what had happened, one would have simply thought it to be beautiful. Context changes everything. This place could have been any other deserted factory, but this was where an atrocity had happened.
Walking through, I wonder, will it be like this when humans are extinct?
It was almost a serene feeling, not fear of us being wiped out, but simply amazement of how nature moves on, through genocides and atrocities even when we humans haven’t.
Sometimes, the most personal experiences are those that no one recognizes, maybe not waking through well-known places like the Taj Mahal, or the Golden Temple, but a simple factory, overgrown with weeds.