Published: September 24th 2007September 24th 2007
three pages of photos...
blogging isn't easy.
it's not exactly like riding a bike.
it's not exactly the same for everyone. for me, i get distracted, i think about the fact that i'm paying for this time, and i could not be paying to not be facing a computer screen and instead facing wonders and confusions not to be found when i leave this place.
oh, i'll be back.
can you come to india and not return? hardly possible.
since i last wrote i've been on unforgetable journeys. and this is the first time in over a month that there seems to the right space and lighting for an update.
i think it went something like this:
rishikesh - dehra dun - mussourie - chamba - uttarkashi - gangotri - gomukh - gangotri - uttarkashi - dehra dun - rishikesh - haridwar - varanasi - bodhgaya - kolkata - darjeeling...
if i could only explain to you how many times a day our plans change, maybe this is in part due to the nature of long term travel, or mostly due to the nature of natalie and i ...with too many alluring directions.
gangortri was just
amazing. the source of the ganges, we did a three day trek to gomukh the glacier, the cow's mouth, as it's called. a holy pilgrimage. we met four beautiful germans, met them on the bus to gangotri, got a place together and spent the next six days together.
did the trek, stayed in a big tent with six beds, lived on rice and dal and ayurvedic tea, and it was some sort of heaven up there. i'll never forget those days, walking through the himalayas, being rained on, being tired, being inspired.
living simply and feeling whole.
we feared for our lives getting to gangotri though... the bus ride was the scariest yet, recent landslides and a wet tiny cliff side "road" ... everyone stood up in the bus to see the jeep that had gone over the side.
and inside i was thinking,
sit down! a weight imbalance might lead us to the same fate
after the trek when we were leaving gomukh, the buses weren't even running because of the roads, i was sort of grateful, we had to take a jeep, we asked the driver to ...go slooow...
it was perfect because to get
a jeep you have to fill it up, and this time there were six of us, not two, so we were happy to all take the ride together.
the jeep had to stop a few times while the road was being cleared from landslides, living proof, and the funniest thing happened during one of our stops...
natalie and i carry around peanut butter and honey whenever we find a special place that has it fresh, we stock up. so we had gotten some chapati (indian bread) to make sandwiches.
i decided to make one while watching bulldozzersss...
the driver was walking around the jeep, and aparently noticed that my door was not quite closed all the way. he reaches his hand into my window to unlock the door...
i'm sort of busy, sort of confused (he was a silent type, didn't say what he was doing before doing it)
and his hand goes straight into my peanut butter honey chapati
fingers covered in sitcky.
he must have been shocked, what is this on my fingers, what just happened?
indeed, natalie was the first to immediately say "did that just happen?"
and of course i was laughing too hard
and lisa and meike were next to us, laughing just as much
and it got the driver to smile a big one and say something in hindi to another man
after that i just couldn't stop laughing... mieke joined me and there were tears and it was the song that doesn't end, still it plays on
i could tell you a thousand details because my memory is uncanny in it's ability to record.
but i'll just move forward to varanasi
everyone has an image of varanasi, forget images, varanasi is intense.
and for us, triple so. or more.
i got ill on my second day there... went to the hospital, it's a long story in itself and i don't want to worry the mother. but let's just say, i had to get an iv, i had to stay the night, i had gastroenteritis... i spent tooooo much money. because this hospital's main doctor is a crook, and probably thinks america's health care system is efficient. granted, i would have spent loads more at home.
but natalie has been to the doc a few times, it was so amazingly fair in price, hassle free, excellent care.
my antibiotics with my probiotics, a plus on their part, actually giving me good flora to aid with the killing of everything in my gut.
so maybe it takes another full day or so before i can move around. and then i'm feeling alive and now we want to explore varanasi, the labyrinthine mysteries...
this city is a maze, and in it you'll find the most interesting scenes tucked away, left turn, right turn, arrow here, burning ghat there...
i considered the scene in the labyrinth where the little people move the stones around, to confuse sara and her lipstick arrows
we spent three days, walking, boating, walking, in the sun, guided by friends, met a few there, that took us around every day. for free. no catch. for serious. it was funnn.
but then...i tried a little too hard because my body wasn't ready yet, and i was in the sun too much, and i started to get ill again... this time it was the heat, and the most painful unending nasuea. a shame because it was on the night we were heading to deepak's house for dinner with his family.
we made it, but i
didn't make it through the meal. i had to get up on the bed, and i was being fanned, and natalie was getting into some indian drama on the tube.
and deepak and his sister tell us that as their guests we are gods.
and i'm in an unreal scenerio, and the electricity cuts out.
and deepak says "that's my india!"
an eariler day as we're walking through the maze something falls from above and hits us, something, cardboard maybe, and again he said "this is my india!"and i love the way he would say it
oh. and we got into a rickshaw wreck on the way home from the hospital. and another time on a cycle rickshaw. seriously. everything is okay now. but i think maybe i was toying with dying in varanasi, it's the place to die, if you die there you escape samsara and go straight to nirvana... people go there to die... but i made it ...and i'm stronger
i even sort of miss the craziness. it's crazy there, did i tell you?
some man on the street told natalie to go across the river if she was looking for her mind
and all the men come up to us with betel in their mouths and they're trying to talk to us and we're listening but we're also mesmerized by the fine art of not spitting betel in our faces as they try to convince us we need a ride.
on some days, in the intense places, we just stand around and stare, and everyone asks "what are you looking for madam?" "what do you want to go madam?" or "oh my god, are you looking for me, here i am, you broke my heart" or "yes my friend" "hello my friend"
and we stare and stare and smile,
and it's like being in the center of a hurricane..
then there was bodhgaya
saw the bodhi tree, the mahabodhi temple, where the buddha was enlightened, it was calm, bringing many people together,
we walked in and around various buddihist temples,
we loved it
rides are also crazy. waiting in train stations, another world. little boys helping us, sleeping in abandoned waiting rooms, rats to watch, sweating the night away.
our last train, we literally barely made, we were sitting in a taxi in kolkata, in traffic, and
gomukh, the glacier
cow's mout, 4000 meters, maybe you can't tell but it's huuuge here. we actually climbed down into the glacier, craziness exciting.
the guy is telling us we have no chance, we've missed the train,
why didn't we go earlier,
and so we jump out of the taxi, natalie is determined,
we run across a couple streets, into the station, running, men saying "30 rs" and "50 rs" and natalie is way ahead of me, because i'm laughing too hard to run, both because her determined run seemed the funniest thing to watch and because i didn't understand why men were yelling money amounts to us,
and running after us,
later natalie tells me they had asked to carry our bags as we run to the train.
so can you believe it, we actually made it, and it was the best catching of a train ever
and then there was kolkata
and i really like kolkata, for a big city.
we learned a lot about the british in india here, and we also learned a lot about the great gap in the class/caste of india. we went into this shopping mall, something completely foriegn to us before kolkata, we were in shock, not that we didn't know it existed..it was just coming out of where we had been, and into
break on the way back
lisa, claus, meike, natalie, daniel, and kind chai provider
something we were fasinated by, saddened by. it was bright lights and expensive shops, and air conditioning, and it didn't take long to get a headache. we don't go to these kinds of places in the states, so walking into it in india, in our state, i just can't explain. we suddenly felt dirty, like we were underdressed out of place, lost...
and just outside you have men that carry people on human drawn richshaws, most of them with no shoes, walking/carrying you around the city...with your shopping bags
we also went to see a 200 yr old banyan tree and had such a happyfunny experience with big crowd of school girls, all asking our names, running up and surrounding us, it was so exciting. i have photos. went to the national library.
where you can't browse books, like back in the states. and this particulary bothers me, because i think there's something very special about happening across books you weren't looking for. and getting inspired by those findings to look more and more.
skip skip skip
we decide to go to darjeeling, tea village, mountains, and after weeks in the hotheat
i had adjusted, finally, sort
and now my hands and toes are cold.
we want to go to nepal. have wanted to foreverrr.
the maoists quit the government, things aren't looking too good, and we just can't seem to make it happen, and won't risk it.
we have tickets home.
four days from now.
i know i can't believe it either.
and we thought of 102724 ways not to end our trip right now, but then something clicked and the tickets were bought, and it has something to do with being responsible.
but we want to stay and we're still talking about what ifs and butts
what if... we fly here, and then back...
but... i want to go to south india
but... nepal isn't stable
what if... we take a crazy trip back to mcleod for three days.
or to delhi
back to kolkata...what will it be...tomorrow will be a new day with new ideas.
and i haven't even told you half of it. the god of small things. i want to. i can't wait to explain the processes of ordinary activities to you. i can't even write a sub-fraction of it, or ... matt? can you help
me with this one?
i have a thousand photos. easy math.
and the astrologer said i'll be back to india when i'm twenty five. delightful math.
and indian idol is big here, and you won't even believe me if i tell you what we've been in. turns out one of the last two finalists is from darjeeling, since we've been here, there are constant chants, protests, megaphones, blasting music, dancing, banners, phones to vote every ten feet, signs for him every five feet or less, in this mountain town we wake and sleep to
"we want prashant! we need prashant! we love prashant!"
at first we thought they were political ralleys, revolutionaries... in some way that could be accurate.
through a series of mistakes or perfect order we got to be here for the finale!
it was mad
we got too tired to watch it but i was woken at 12:30am by all the screaming, singing, drumming, whistling, stomping of the mountain and it's keepers.
he won!!! and we voted yesterday four times, at one of the phones on the side of the road.
people sat there all day, all
week, dialing, redialing...
he's a nepali and this is big for them
we're so happy
i wish you could have been here
we head back to kolkata in a few hours, been here a week.
every day is full
we don't want to leave
but we're already planning our visit back
and i think we'll be in central america soon, and as a friend put it
-you know the secret now-
There are more photos below