Liminal Spaces

Liminal space:

To be on the precipice of something new

But not quite there yet

To be frank, I did not know what a liminal space was before this trip. So thank you to Celeste and Manya :). But it’s a pleasant term to help shape this blog post rather than just call it a photo dump. Although it is primarily that. 

Long distance travel in India normally requires trains or buses over multiple hours to reach a specific destination: such as Courtallam, Ooty, or Paliyaputtam. These stations always served as perfect examples of liminal spaces: an in-between, a threshold meant to be passed through. But even at the destination, I felt this liminality.

I felt more transitory at our destinations than the travel stations. I could hazard multiple guesses as to why the Aravind experience is peculiarly fulfilling for me. But it distils quite simply into this: being on the edge of exploration. Despite destinations deemed as endpoints, these are places to pass through. Not to fully exist in. This Aravind experience passed through me, while I was in a constant state of flux.

This summer encompasses a variety of these escapades, whether it be self-determined or part of the internship. Courtallam and Ooty both felt as exploratory as did the vision centre in Kariapatti as did the Meenakshi temple. Identity exploration through misty mountains or religious revelation. Through the fascinating structure of primary eye care in vision centers to the sheer mass of healthcare at the base hospital, I am swept up in the fascinating organisation of Aravind.

These experiences create this continuous feeling of discovery, internal and external, constantly on the precipice. Hopefully, I don’t get acclimated to this.

But, by its nature, this feeling is one of disorientation. With insecure footing, there is something amiss. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of daily life. Jumping from responsibility to responsibility, from one step to the next, ignoring the tension that comes with holding on just a little longer… 

I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.

-The Great Gatsby

This entire experience felt liminal. It was meant to be passed through but not to fully stay in. The next new exciting thing: running faster and stretching our arms out. Then one fine morning…

It’s strange to realise how much and how little time has passed.

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About Suhaas Narayanan

Hello! I’m Suhaas, a rising junior at Penn studying Finance and Neuroscience. I’ll be spending my 2022 summer at the Aravind Eye Care Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. I’m interested in philosophy, healthcare systems, and human geography. I’m excited to explore the variety of novel experiences that my internship as part of CASI will offer!