Published: January 10th 2007January 10th 2007
Happy New Year!! I prepared some highlights in my journal, but am caught up in the present, so those will have to wait. Little things make me think of you guys; I'm really looking forward to being home again, but in only a week-and-a-half? I can't believe it.
For the first time as a traveler, the first time in my life really, my race makes me stand out. (Helping me to better understand how incredibly pervasive race is... The truism: being away from home informs my understanding of my local culture.) While the reaction I get is almost wholly positive, it's still uncomfortable to be singled out by families who want us in their vacation photos, students who just want to practice their English, and drivers who beep a "hello/look my way" as they pass.
Honking can also mean "I'm passing" or "I know I should be driving 5mph on this uber-narrow street, but I'm going 10mph, and I don't really want to hit you, could you please move?" (See, it's good that this shorthand exists.) Only, all the honking makes me jumpy. I've been forced to acknowledge that being a white westerner is a part of my identity that I am used to taking for granted...
The experience has taught me why the guidebooks make a point to highlight refuge-like places. --No matter how many people told me in advance, "Oh, it's noisy and smelly and chaotic and crowded and overwhelming;" I thought, "Great! I want to hop right into the thick of it. Let's get off the tourist trail and see the country." But let's face it, I do have trouble just relaxing while being scrutinized by school groups, honked at, or constantly asked to buy things and feed hungry babies. And unlike my brother, I don't enjoy 'befriending' touts (people who want to sell you something).
Right now I'm staying in Varkala
. Were it not for the omnipresent (lovely!) sound of surf pounding against the cliffs, it would still be recognizable as a beach town because all the cafes have made a pact so as to not let a single moment pass without someone somewhere playing Bob Marley's Legend.
Yesterday I finally drank from a coconut and made it to an 8am yoga class. Today I went for a massage and watched a movie. Being on vacation is really relaxing and indulgent!
Although I do manage to keep some element of the drama about me. Today the guy who sold me a gorgeous orange mirrored bedspread gave me such a good price he almost cried as he welcomed me back into the store. (It was very effective.) Tomorrow I'm a little booked up with a foot massage, a rejuvenation massage and an Indian cooking class... Maybe I'll start out on the beach for sunrise, then hit the 8am yoga class too, though I wouldn't want to get kicked out of town by the laid-back police (aka waitstaff) by indulging my over-scheduling tendency TOO much.
p.s. Additional relevant observations: 1) India is covered in a layer of dirt, and everywhere is lush and decorated in flowers. 2) The Falcao-Forester siblings are allergic to the environment, including dust and pollen. 3) They were introduced to hay fever on December 22nd. 4) The younger one flew home from Delhi on the 6th. 5) The elder one is feeling mostly better, but taking this unique opportunity to savor her impaired sense of smell.