English A Block
December 9, 2012
Personal Essay Draft
Having grown up in a culture radically different from the one my parents grew up in, I have had both the privilege and challenge of straddling two different worlds. Born and brought up in the United States, I find myself at ease with and well-integrated into American culture and values. Although I have always been fascinated, and deeply in love with, with my land of origin, India, I have been frequently baffled by, and at odds with, its traditions and culture. An important aspect of my life has been the Sikh faith, the religion my parents introduced to me. Yet I struggled to comprehend it. My recent visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, was a turning point in my appreciation and understanding of my parent’s faith. It deepened my perspective on life. Most importantly, it resolved the seeming contradiction and dual identities I have embodied my entire life.
At four in the morning I was not in the mood to have a cultural experience. Grumbling and half-asleep, we stepped out of our hotel room into the alleys of Amritsar, Punjab. I knew much better than to argue with my mother about the rationale of viewing the Golden Temple at the crack of dawn. This was the city that was imbued with purity and all that was holy to her. She had told me something in my partially somnambulant state about how breathtaking the temple was in its ‘spiritual silence’, before the crowds hit. My jet-lagged sister and I obediently got dressed, but nonetheless managed to delay all of us. If we were hoping it would be less crowded so early, we were completely wrong. We were jostled in many directions trying to part the crowd before us just to get into the temple. We removed our shoes, and cleansed our feet by dipping our feet into the holy water. In the darkness of the morning, the gold leaf adorned temple glistened, as the water surrounding it reflected off the golden walls. There were...