Published: August 8th 2006August 8th 2006
Elephant in Bandra
An inspiring photo opp; An elephant in the streets of an affluent Mumbai suburb, Bandra.
So I'm off on my travels alone. Alone meaning, without a partner, a companion, a trusting friend to talk to and enjoy the sights and experiences, but what I've realized is that no one is ever alone in India. This country is huge, and it seems that there are people inhabiting every nook and cranny of it. In fact, what I've seen more often is two or three people in one little bit of space. Three on a motorcyle, for example, or 42 on a bus for which the maximum recommended capacity is 20. What leaves my jaw slack in awe though, is how many people do not have a private toilet. This is what this trip is teaching me; There are too many poeple who don't have a toilet!
As I rode the train from Delhi to Agra one peaceful monsoon morning, I was in awe at the sheer number of people I saw along the countryside, along the railroad tracks squatting and doing their private morning duties, their routines, so to speak, all along the countryside. They were alone and in groups, facing toward the train or facing away, men and women, boys and girls. It was
It was puring rain the day I visited the Taj Mahal (oh, and every day. This is as close as I got.
a sight to see! I looked into their faces (in effort to look, but not there) to see that most people appeared alright. They were not embarrassed nor ashamed. It just is what it is, and it's not so bad, their faces told me.
Too often I've seen people waking up from behind tea stalls, or from the front seat of taxis and rickshaws, or settling blankets under narrow eaves of the drug store in effort to protect themselves from the rains. This is the monsoon season. These are the most persistent rains I have ever seen. It has rained virtually everyday for the last four months of my existence. But to sleep in it, to bath in it, is something I can't imagine being a real necessity for me. So, it seems that it's not the beggars and the people on the streets pouting and pushing infants in my face with palms open for a donation that has been awkening. I've become sadly adept at blocking them out. And it's not so much the touts and cheaters and manipulaters who want to overcharge me by more than 200 % at times on anything from the use of a
I rented a scooter in Arombol, a beach town in Goa.
scale to a taxi fare. But it's those who don't see me looking, and who go on about their business with relaxed faces, head wiggles, and an occassional smile who effect me most. It's the one guty who helped me out and didn't ask for anything in return, that I tipped the most. It's those who don't ask who have taught me a valued lesson. Their life is what it is, as is all of ours and they're not asking for much more (at least not from me).
So, enjoy some photos (sorry for the poor quality), and think of me wandering about this vast country that is as exhilerating as it is exasperating, during the monsoon, with more stuff on my back than people people have in their homes. I'll be home in September, but I'll try to add to the blog occassionally. I'll be 20 to 30 pounds lighter, depending on the scale used, and ready to eat red meat and watch some football (American, that is) in an air-condidtioned establishment with some trusted friends. See y'all then.
There are more photos below