A fantastic and fictional journey across India
This is a piece of creative writing. Using Hermann Hesse’s masterpiece as a base, I wrote a fictional travel diary in which a journalist decides to discover India following Siddhartha’s path. I hope you like it 😉
8th May 2007
After so many hours on the plane I’m finally here in India. I’m very excited and I can’t wait to start my journey! The magazine I work for has sent me here to write a story about this country. For me it’s such a good occasion to visit a place I’ve always wished to see since I was a student in high-school. I remember when I was a senior and I fell in love with the book by Hesse.
Today I’m in a village one hour from Jaunpur, a town located in Utter Pradesh, in Northern India. This place is supposed to be the serene village where Siddhartha was born and spent his childhood.
The day is warm and sunny, a very enjoyable weather. I’m very tired and now I sit in the shade of an aged fig tree, where I am now writing in my diary. I feel like I am in a completely different world: the atmosphere of this riverside village is the most peaceful ever.
While I sit here I can see the Brahmin practising the contemplation and speaking the “om” in a shaded place hidden by a few houses.
11th May 2007
After having spent two days in the village where Siddhartha grew up, it’s time to continue the journey. My next stop is the forest where Siddhartha and his friend Govinda were with the Samanas, a group of monks who wander and live a life of austerity.
“When, in the first light of the day, walking slowly on numb legs, he left the still-silent town, a shadow crouching by the last hut stoop up and joined the pilgrim” (11).
The bamboo forest is a mysterious place. The words I would use to describe it are wild, thick and dark. The forest is never silent. You are always surrounded by a slight but continuous noise made by all the different and numerous species of animals living there. Here the temperature is very hot because of the high level of humidity. As I walk in the forest there’s a strong smell of wet soil.
12th May 2007
The time spent in the forest was short indeed because the temperature was unbearable.
I continue my journey by going to the town of Savathi. Here there’s a monastery called Buddha’s Jetavana Monastery. This building is enclosed by a large, but simple garden. However, the whole landscape is very beautiful because it’s neat and well-kept. The green of the plants is bright and most of the flowers have bloomed, colouring the garden in red and yellow. It is outside the town of Savathi, so the atmosphere is quite calm and it seems like an escape from the desires and sins of the world.
This garden is a holy place because it’s where Buddha taught his disciplines. Nowadays there are monks who still educate people in Buddhism. The monks are dressed in orange robes and have shaved heads. “In the town of Savathi every child knew the name of the Sublime Buddha and every home was prepared to fill the alms bowl of Gautama’s disciples, the silent supplicants” (25).
15th May 2007
The town is very crowded and noisy: you have to pay attention whenever you go to avoid bicycles, skinny cows, old cars and city people. Most beg for food and money. This is the stereotypical India that every foreigner expects. It is unbelievable to see a town so dirty and unsanitary: even the air smells because of the open-air sewers that line the streets.
Little children walk half naked in the streets. Old people, adults, children and animals lie lazily on the side of the street.
This afternoon a leper followed me and probably wanted some money. What was I supposed to do? A tourist guide suggested not to pay attention. It’s not easy at all! Probably Siddhartha would have behaved differently because of his past experiences. When he was with the Samanas he used to beg for money, so perhaps he would have given something to that man.