By: Lucas Shelton

Part Ek: Nadi

A river of ice flows fast as the tropical turquoise river stays calm.

You can admire the cold river all you want,

but eventually your must return to the turquoise river.

You should love the falling sun but do not hate what comes next.

Staying in the turquoise river, you never think to explore the cold one. And yes we didn’t really go into the Khali River this time because it was too fast, but this poem isn’t exactly about that. This poem is about change and accepting change. When I first thought of the poem, I was sitting on a rock looking at the Khali river. It was a beautiful sight and very peaceful. I thought about how I was looking at the river, and how it could apply to other things in life. But, I also thought there was a second part – the part where you either go into the river and get swept away, or leave.

And I left.

Later the next day, I wanted to go white water rafting in the Khali, as a reference to the poem I wrote above. The reason is because I say “…you never think to explore the cold river”, the cold river being the Khali. Unfortunately my quote was proven to be true like a prophecy, and as of writing this, we still never went swimming in the Khali. But I was fine with it.

You see that little sentence at the end of the poem? That is talking about change and accepting it. Ampomah would always tell me that she didn’t want to waste any of her time in America, and I always thought that it was perfectly fine to waste some time. This last part kinda talk on my thoughts about the idea of looking back on something good and feeling sad. It is my belief that you should look back on all your memories – see something now gone in a happy light, feel happy you got to experience them instead of being sad that they are over.

And while I too can admire the Khali all I want, our group has to leave Panshechuar and move on to bigger waters (I think the Ganges is bigger). But I do not feel sad about it, nor do I feel sad about leaving the Saryu.

But there’s more.

When I was on that rock looking at the Khali, something caught my eye. It was a little piece of trash flowing in the river. It was being carried too fast for me to take it out, and it was also too far of a swim. So I sat there and watched it flow past. And again later, at the confluence of the Saryu and the Khali, there was a leaf flowing in the water, and I had the same feeling. Maybe I’ll see something else flow down the Ganges if I stay there long enough. But when I saw the trash flowing in the Khali, It made me think of my ideology again. My idea that you can watch something and admire it, but it will have to go. It made me think about the possibility that maybe what we are watching is not the river, but the little piece of trash flowing in it.

Part Do: Makaan

So I’m gonna switch it up on y’all real quick cuz we can’t just explain a poem this whole time. So yesterday, I had our group do what Thanksgiving could never – we actually gave thanks. I had people come together and draw 50 drawings in the hopes of making a hundred (that ain’t happened). And honestly I thought it would go terrible…like I thought we were gonna give the Sadhu the gifts and touch his feet (we did that btw) and I really thought he would be like “what are you doing get out of my temple”. But, no. He took our stuff and took EP’s drawing and really liked it. I was really surprised we weren’t banished but then I thought maybe people don’t often give gifts to the Sadhu.

We also went on the Greek Odessy, but Indian, trying to get the art and food to all the houses we visited in the village. Yes, it took all day, but it was honestly worth it. Everyone got to see people they wanted to see again, and we were able to give them a little reminder of us. But the reason I chose to give them a bunch of art and food is cuz they really helped us out this week.

For the people in America reading this, imma try and explain how it went when we showed up at their house.

So we was walking in the village and then we had seen a house, so we got all like 20 of us and sat down on their property. Now instead of coming out with a gun like an American would, they instead came out with food they sold to make money, and tried to answer our questions and talk to us, which was really kind of them so I wanted to give them something as a thanks.

But the real life changer was these people on a mountain. So I was climbing this thing, steep rocky switchback after switchback. The view was nice but the heat sucked. So I’m finally at the very top of this thing and I am tired and thirsty, but I know there is an issue. I had no more water. You might be thinking “Oh Lucas didn’t you almost die of dehydration like yesterday? Why you just not bringing enough water?” And you would be correct, I should have brought more. So when I’m up here dying, I see a random blue house up here. My first thought isn’t “Oh yay water” it’s “why would anyone have a house up here?”. Then I thought about the water. So I pulled up on the guy that lives there and asked for some water.

Mans did the most.

He pulled out a bunch of chairs and a fan and some sodas too. I wasn’t even expecting the sodas. I forgot they even had those here. So I was so happy after that cuz he really done saved my life there. And as I was at his house I looked around and saw that it was like the most beautiful house I have every seen in my life. Maybe ATL just don’t got nice houses (no offense dad) but this thing was 10 times better than any house in America.

And it didn’t have glass windows.

So something I’ve noticed a lot in this village, a very small detail, is that almost every house here doesn’t have glass windows. You might think that’s weird or you might think it means they broke (poor), but I think it completely fine. I mean, who said we needed glass windows? I used to think that if something looked bad then it was probably bad. But while I am here, I realized standards are just a concept by society to make you conform. They relative. When I was on my layover in Qatar, you could’ve put me in a house with no door and the toilet is a dung bettle in a box of sand, and I’d just be like “aight then”…but, if you’d given me that same bathroom in the USA, I’d be like “what kinda Air BNB is this?” Same thing with the windows. In the ATL, bars on windows mean one thing – here they are something totally else. The first time I canoed in the Dragon Run, I thought it was dirty because it was brown – but when I got in it I learned it’s cleaner than a Hawaiian ocean. It all really depends on where you be at.

But this all kinda ties back to the poem from earlier – that you should just roll with it, wherever you are, and have a great time. Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s bad. It might just be that you don’t be knowing, or that you’re not with it yet. As of writing this, I have a sunburn and something else I can’t say here but I’m not letting it ruin my Saryu river experience!

So to end off this whole thing, I’ll say that you shouldn’t be afraid of the river, nor should you be afraid of houses with no windows, or chasing your dreams. Instead, you should figure out what’s right for the context you in. You should remember bars on windows are valid. And you should hop right into the cold river instead of leaving the river like I did. But don’t go to far cuz in India rivers be rollin’.

Warning: life jackets be needed in Pancheshwar

3 responses to “Windows, Dung Beetles and the Dragon Run”

  1. Mollie Avatar

    Well, Lucas, you have kept the blog bar exceedingly high for those that follow you! The bits of wisdom that you’ve collected in your first week in India take some people a lifetime, if ever, to discover. The image of you, EP and the gang busting out artwork for the Sadhu as offerings warms my heart and tells me that you are unafraid to be thankful and kind! Maybe you didn’t float down the cold, rolling river literally, but there is no question that you are riding the waves like that little piece of trash, making all kinds of discoveries along the way.

    Thank you for sharing so thoroughly and thoughtfully, Lucas! Keep on rollin’…

  2. Dave's Mom Avatar
    Dave’s Mom

    Lucas – This is maybe the best blog entry I’ve ever read… and I’ve read every one since CCS has been going to India! You nailed the scene I’m sure. You’re amazing👍

  3. jbyersccs Avatar

    Lucas, once again, a new format and breath of fresh air and fresh thought blasting out from Panschewar. It is so much of a wonder to see another student plumbing the depths of reality, experience and working out the philosophy of life. How very “meta” of you to look upon the experience outside of your feelings and try to internalize what is best and true. Another day of being in awe of this group.

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