India Bound

Sunrise at 5.30 am Sunset at 7.05 pm

Location: Mussoorie and Delhi, India

Engaging in wild acts of exploration and inquisition.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

In India, solitude is a selfish pursuit

Well, after typing out a very lengthy account of my experiences in India thusfar, the put-put internet and ten year old computer I am on crashed. This is how things here work - everything runs on a system of chaos and everyone seems to find their place or plan within this chaos.

Everything is moving here - bustling, rushing, weaving along. The streets are crowded with bicycles, motor-rickshaws, busses with painted scripts and mantras covering them (everything from "horn please" to guru blessings. Crossing the street is a death-defying adventure as pedestrians hold the lowest place in the traffic pecking order, and it is often hard to find a place to walk as the sidewalks are covered with sleeping men, children and dogs in the afternoon sun.

We have been let loose to explore Delhi at our leisure, and though I have hardly been here at all, India feels like home. Everything is humorous and there is a laugh to be found in anything - the men peeing against a wall right alongside the busiest road in Delhi, the water buffalo holding up four lanes of traffics, the people who all seem to know the best places for us to go and how to get there are are fiercely adamant on leading us there.

Leaving the hostel in the morning there is the smell of roasting spices and chai from the chai wallah. Roadside food stalls display fruits and fried foods and food is ordered and eaten in the shade next to the stalls. Everyone on the program seems to have the fear of food deeply instilled in them and forbid cut fresh fruits, milk, no brushing teeth with tap water and absolutely no street foods. I have been a little lax with these fears, hoping that my body will acclamate to all these new microbes and eventually I will be able to try more things. So, morning chai at the chai wallah means I have a stomach ache for half the day, but all of my senses are so overwhelmed by everything else that I hardly mind it.

We have been to a Sikh temple made of marble and covered in gold where we sat by a huge reflecting pool filled with giant carp and saw the thieving monkeys at the local Hanuman temple at the dawn morning prayers. Underground markets, men offering us their ear-cleaning services, giant cockroaches poking their feelers out of every crack, and endless amounts of human oddities surround us. In India, nothing is hidden.

The heat is heavy, a heaviness I am learning to carry. Monsoon season hasn't quite begun in Delhi, we will be leaving for Mussoorie this Saturday where it will be cool and we will be out of the majority of the heat. Mango and India ice cream has been a savior, and then the afternoon rain comes in huge drops that takes the temperature down but only makes everyone feel all the stickier.

Notices: there is much less advertising here. Most food operations and clothing stores are independently run and very casual. There are hardly any women out in public (must be at home running the house?). Men are extremely affectionate with each other - strolling the streets arm in arm or hand in hand, riding double on bicycles and scooters. We are a spectacle here everywhere we go, there will never be any blending in (so far have had to pose for pictures twice, and I don't know if I will ever be used to this strange and unwatned celebrity status).

I am absolutely taken thusfar. I could hardly complain about a thing, I am merely exausted from the complete and entire overtake of my senses. Saturday we leave for the foothills of the Himalayas and there is talk of venturing farther north to the northern holy pilgrimage sites. Everyone is buzzing with possibility - I could be anywhere in a couple of days, who knows!

My love to you all.


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