Days are slowly drifting into nights, and nights into days. Slowly is the operative word here. Jet lag is a worthy opponent and is only beaten bit by bit. Mid-day naps are no longer de rigeur, but I write this at night and sleep is far from my mind, which is fixated on color at this moment.
People have been asking me of my impressions of India after our short stay there, and I find myself leading with the word colorful. Time and time again I would lift my eyes from gray street, or dirty near dead dog splayed across my path and a wash of magenta, crimson, and cobalt laying up against ochre hues would baptize my eyes anew. Saris would bloom like lotuses in the mud brown streets of Mumbai, and the hawkers’ cries of “Please, sir! Buy, sir!” would fade against this shocking beauty. The press of body against body as everybody made their way to train became, for a moment a distraction rather than a threat. Color does that to me. The color in Kerala in Southern India also took me in. But my mind, in these southern memories, does not go first to saris even though these too were colorful, but to homes.
We spent a few days in rice patty country at a home stay. Here we could walk along canals used to irrigate the rice fields. These canals were fed by a broad river located just outside our converted granary’s window (or would that be ricery?). We could take walks along these canal systems, where women would be washing clothes on the river rocks, and the children would delight at the opportunity to practice their English. The poverty in this area was not quite so apparent, although clearly some homes were very basic. But even the most humble abode was painted in bright colors. From a distance, houses on canals would sit like birds in a tree, boasting their beauty and bidding us to take notice. As we took note, my wife, youngest daughter and I all recalled how homes in some of the newer sections in certain cities in Canada are these days colored gray, or pale browns. A car ride’s view while driving through some subdivisions is rather like the erasure of beauty. I think also of my first impressions of dress in Toronto, some years back, where black bested every hue. India seemed little interest in this sort of sophistication. I had a similar impression of color in Newfoundland some years back. A guide there told us that fishermen coming from sea would want to be able to make out their house as soon as possible as ocean’s horizon gave way to a glimpse of terra firma. Perhaps some people are more aware of their need for hope than others.
I remain hopeful that I will again, one day, sleep through the night. This is a rather modest hope in the face of this worlds’ pressing needs. But every healthy hope bespeaks the greatest Hope of all, and in this time of the beginning of a new year, I hope for all a blessed year with safe journeys and rich remarkable home comings.