India—No Shangri-La

This January and February, exactly 30 years passed since I first went to India. It was one of my first longer travels, which is why this country occupies a very special place in my life. I spent the larger part of my youth—the time when people usually set out on such journeys—on my sailboat, sailing almost the whole year round. In the summer I would take guests on trips as a skipper and out of season I would sail for pleasure. But fate wanted for me to experience this first passage to India and while I was there, several things happened back home (and inside me!) that completely changed the direction of my life from that point on. Today, most people see me as a photographer, but I still haven't decided what I want to be. Just as I did thirty years ago, I’m still wondering what I want to do in life even though the evasive commodity of time allotted to my life is running out ever faster and slowly approaching its end.


I brought a couple of amateur photographs from India, which impressed the right people, and so overnight I turned over a new leaf in my picture book of life. All of a sudden and out of the blue, I became a photographer. A photographer who keeps going back to India! I also went to India this January... During my entire stay, and perhaps partly due to the milestone anniversary, I couldn't stop thinking about what has changed there since my first visit. I could hardly say nothing, considering that 30 years ago my boat with its 4.5 hp Tomos outboard motor was the only motorboat in Varanasi on the banks of the holy river Ganges, whereas now plenty of diesel motors rumble there, the sailboats have disappeared and the men towing heavily-laden boats against the current are gone. But these changes are small and unnoticeable. The ghats, the steps that lead to the holy river, are just as full of pilgrims flocking from all over India to take a ritual bath and cleanse their karma as they were at the time. The loud ringing of the bells in countless temples still announces morning puja prayer rituals and the funeral pyres at the Manikarnika Ghat still burn day and night, turning religious Hindus who want to achieve moksha, i.e. the salvation from samsara, the endless cycle of rebirth, into smoke. However, to say that nothing has changed would be a downright lie. But what has changed the most is me! I’ve changed significantly...












Back then, sitting on the ghats and reading Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, I figured that I actually understood certain things about life (that lay ahead of me like a long shadow). But I didn't! Today, when I have to turn around to be able to even still see this really long shadow behind me, I know that everything is just a big illusion and there is nothing on the other side. Absolutely nothing, no matter how hard numerous religions of the world try to keep us in miserable obedience of earthly existence with their false promises. The light will go out and I will be forever trampled like a small and infinitely insignificant little ant in mighty nature’s mechanism. My place will perhaps be taken over by someone else or perhaps not. And, having thought about it, this is entirely unimportant and irrelevant. Which is only right! In this thirty-year circle from one flight of steps to the Ganges to another, I have come to accept my absolute finality, a concept utterly foreign to many people who do everything they can to wriggle out of it. I, on the other hand, find it endlessly relaxing and it reconciles me with this world... Because I often wonder what it would be like if I suddenly grew completely tired of living in the eternal blissfulness promised in one form or another by all world religions. What if after several trillions of years sitting on a cloud with wings on my back started to annoy me? Or if all the 72 heavenly virgins promised to jihadis started to nag and get on my nerves? Or if I grew weary of waiting for the next reincarnation in the bliss of Swarga, the Hindu heaven? Hey, people, do you even realise? This is damn ETERNITY we’re talking about here, it NEVER ends!!! Could there even be a harsher sentence than being condemned to any type of eternity? Wouldn’t we rather live here and now?







Arne Hodalič
Arne Hodalič

My life-motto is “You can sleep when you’re dead!” and I stick to it every day in my life! I worked with the Company “Our Space appliances” for many years now, and together we have prepared numerous successful events, lectures and team-building articles for you to enjoy and read. The best part of it all is when Jure (the CEO of Our Space appliances) comes to visit my family and me at the seaside and together we can grill a tasty fish or 2. That’s when life becomes even better…

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