[I read this on my friend Alan's blog and suddenly had to jump on the guest post hosting bandwagon. It is so beautiful to me, for so many reasons. Enjoy.]Living in Bangalore sometimes feels a lot like living in LA. The cultural pluralism, the creative energy, the crowds, the seas of asphalt, the fact that everything is twenty minutes away and it always takes forty minutes to get there, the glitz and glamor in such proximity to lack, even the gated communities are all equally a part of Bangalore as they are a part of LA. But at a certain level these are all just facts, and as Indian facts, whatever their apparent similarity, they are quite different than the facts of LA.
I am, I think, trying to be a bit more literal in saying that Bangalore sometimes feels like LA. Last night was a night of rain; four straight hours of the skies opening up and unloading on us, knocking out the power and the cable, providing an amazing light show to fall asleep to, flooding much of the city. We woke up this morning to a city scrubbed clean. (Well, as clean as a city can be in the middle of a garbage collectors strike.) The Garden City was breathing deep. The sky was a ridiculously thick baby blue, given an impossible depth and presence by shockingly white cotton-candy clouds. The buildings and sidewalks, such as they are, sparkled. And there was a something in the air – a feeling of clarity, of sharpness, of a lightness as the city smiled. A feeling that has always meant for me the changing of the seasons, a feeling that we have all survived another long, hot dry summer and made it to fall.
In Minnesota the seasons are rather confrontational; when the seasons change nature is daring you to not adjust to its time, to its rhythms. Here, and in LA, nature is more subtle, and it is possible to believe that you can live according to your own time, your own rhythms, eating garden fresh tomatoes year round, celebrating Christmas at the beach, never learning to play cards because you are always outside. But every once in a while, when you least expect it, there is a change and you can feel it. It is never much, maybe the day is just a degree or two cooler, or there is a drop in an already low humidity, or the late summer blooms offer a hint of a difference of taste and smell; no matter how slight there is a little something in the air to remind you that, with all the asphalt, all the cars, all the hustling and bustling about, we are still bodies of dust and earth, a part of this world, living in times that we do not create, in rhythms that are not our own.
Alan Van Wyk is an independent scholar who recently completed his PhD in Religious Studies. Although he considers St. Paul, MN home, he is currently living with his wife in Bangalore, India. In addition to his academic writings on theology, culture, and ecology, he blogs at Greetings From the Future about the adventure of living in Bangalore.