Amritsar and the conclusion of my first ride in India – March 2008

“It seems a fitting conclusion to our month of riding the breadth of Northern India that it should end in an oasis of sublime beauty and ultimate tranquility. The Golden Temple of Amritsar, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith is such a place. It is like a visit to the pure soul of this religion of tolerance and inclusion, a world sealed off from the harsh chaos on the other side of its walls, a sanctuary glistening in white marble and luminous gold.
There is no doubt in my mind that, as a rider out on the street rather than tourists in a tour bus, our 2,000 miles across this country have been war. Each day presented its battles which tested us, grinded us, covered us with soot and grime, and on a daily basis, nearly killed us. Yesterday alone en route to this city we were nearly involved in eight head-on collisions due to the murderous stupidity of bus and jeep drivers.

“But even worse than our brushes with mortality, India murders itself. Whether it be on the highways, in its cities or in rural villages, it is a place where to be born weak is to subsist on the ruthlessly dark fringe of existence. Whether human or animal, I have seen suffering here like I have seen in no other country on earth. But in the paradox that for me has defined this place, India is the by far most magical country I have ever visited. It has the capacity to make you gasp for breath at its architectural beauty, to charm you with the mosaic of its peoples and culture, and seduce you with its history and the religions that are core to life. Metaphorically, it is like the tiger that still roams its southern jungles: awesomely beautiful and majestic, but with the potential to devour the unwary. ”

“I leave India tomorrow locked in this paradox and it may take me weeks or months to reconcile. Perhaps I never will. But as I prepare to spend another sunset roaming around the gem in the lake that is the Golden Temple of Amritsar, I am happy that I will exit this country with the warmth of the soul of the Sikh people in my heart.”

Excerpt From: Robb La Velle. “The Places In Between.” Three Chicken Ranch Publishing, 2013. iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-places-in-between/id808912597?mt=11

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