June 13, 2016 — By: Jordan.
Beautiful chaos. That’s what comes to mind each time I think of Delhi. The hustle of the city, the beauty of the culture, the chaos of it all coming together.
I came to India not knowing what to expect in the least. Most everyone (actually, I think it likely is everyone) in the Global Justice Program has traveled outside the country before. I am the exception. Although I had always wanted to travel, the opportunity had never presented itself and I was always too wrapped up in the day to day to chase down an opportunity for myself. Then came Pepperdine. Here it was on a silver platter. Everything I ever wanted wrapped up into one program: the opportunity to travel, spread knowledge, lend a helping hand, correct injustice in places that need it most, the list goes on.
Cut to May 21, 2016. Walking out of the airport in Delhi at 11:30 pm after a 14-hour plane ride (most of which I surprisingly slept through) I was instantly struck by two things: the heat and the pollution. I could taste the air in a way I never knew was possible. I remember almost choking on the flavor and being confused. At the time I thought it was just the airport, like maybe it just had a strange smell, but I later learned it was just Delhi. The air and its strange flavor was just another thing to add to the beautiful chaos of the city.
Dripping with sweat we got a cab and I watched as the driver put my luggage, containing my money and phone, onto the roof of the car in this tiny little box with small sides and then get into the driver’s seat. I stood there for a minute thinking “Is he going to strap it down? How on earth is that going to stay on the roof?” but when everyone else got into the cab without hesitation, I realized there was going to be no strapping my suitcase down. So, I said a little prayer for my belongings and hopped in. As we drove to the hotel I watched the city. I watched as the cars weaved in and out of the lanes (mostly driving in the middle of two lanes) and I watched as people walked alongside the cars, not on a sidewalk, but in the street as if they themselves were vehicles, and I watched as everything seemed to work perfectly together. It was a strange thing. To see the clear disobeying of the rules of the road, but to see it all function anyway. As if no rules were the rules.
Getting out of the car at the hotel and seeing my luggage still entirely intact on the roof was the first moment the phrase “beautiful chaos” came to mind. I was floored that the luggage had stayed unscathed throughout the entire trip. How had it not fallen off? Just another mystery of Delhi. I sat in the hotel that night (unable to sleep since I had slept 14 hours throughout the day) and reflected on what I had seen, felt, and experienced in just that short time outside: the way in which everything seemed to be falling apart and coming together simultaneously, the taste of the air, and above all, the feeling of desire. The desire to experience more of the city that would be my home for the next two months.
Now, three weeks in, I just keep finding myself repeating the same phrase: beautiful chaos. Because, even in the most tragic parts of the city, there is something beautiful and it all comes together in the most chaotic way that it just seems to make sense.