There is something so innately human about the way life is lived in Varanasi, India.It's not the combination of the loud, the ugly and the dirty with the sacred, the pristine and the lovely; although those are definitely factors.
It settled around me as I was walking through the garden of the fly infested Monkey Temple.
I could feel the soft pads of my tenderly pink feet making small puffs of dust against the warm and warn red brick path. There were so many sensations of touch and connection to the ground below me, I felt the way each muscle of my foot moved around the bone and in relation to the skin outside, I felt the difference between walking in the sun as in walking in the shade.
Everyone goes barefoot here, mostly in shops or when you enter a house, but some people (a significant amount) go everywhere without shoes. There is also the matter of eating with your right hand (and wiping with your left, more on that later). I find so much delight in eating with my hands and walking barefoot, it makes me think of when I was a kid and you could do such things without any kind of castigation.
I got to thinking that we cut ourselves off so much in the US, by blocking off one of our most important senses: touch. We put our sensitive little feet inside the warm and snug safety of shoes, we detach our selves physically from the experience of really being apart of our meal, and believe me I am a firm believer in toilet paper but we remove ourselves from knowing how our meals are affecting us and what actually happens to our waste when we flush it goodbye.
Hmm, thinking a lot today about the sense of touch and personal space in my home life vs. here.