Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shock Therapy

09.11.2010 (Early Saturday)

Indira Gandhi International Airport
New Delhi, Delhi, India

We made it!

09.12.2010 (Sunday)

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

5:24
The day after.
I am awakened by the hypnotic sounds of Muslim chanting from the next-door mosque.  Delhi didn’t prove to be much, just a chaotic frenzy to get the city ready for the Commonwealth Games and for the upcoming festivals of the weekend.  For the Muslim contingent, the end of Ramadan and an overlapping Hindu celebration from the seemingly never-ending string of festivities in the Hindu calendar.  We did not explore much, between the jet lag and the culture shock; we just wanted to get out, FAST!  A government-sponsored hustler makes us pay two weeks’ worth of our travel budget to get out of Delhi before it gets even worse.  Angry as I might have been over the rip-off, nothing buys peace of mind, and I’d rather be here than going nuts amongst 12 .8 million.  A few more sun salutations to get the rust off my bones and clear my mind.  Then off to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise, a childhood dream about to come alive.

13:56

        
As images of the Taj Mahal still rush through my mind, without enough time to properly grasp, I experience the first big clash of the ones you hear India is all about.  Close to the bazaar, at an air-conditioned coffee shop on the corner of a nicer strip mall.  The AC, a status symbol here, sets you apart from the crude reality that meanders outside.  Bollywood beats blasting from the flat-screen.  Mochas, lattes and ‘ccinos in tall sleek glasses decorate the table of our well-groomed, blinged-out neighbors.  Outside, in the blazing sun, a young girl bangs on the glass begging for whatever can trickle down from the life on the inside.  She insists.  The jovial young waiter is swiftly instructed by our neighbors to get rid of the nuisance.  She leaves, but in a short time an older lady takes her spot.  We continue sipping our 50 rps coffee from Ethiopia that is likely to be causing a similar scene in Addis Ababa.  (As I Write:  I’m writing this in the rooftop restaurant of our Udaipur digs, with an awesome view of the lake…we’ll get there.  I start a conversation with a guy sitting next to me, and where is he from?  Ethiopia!  What are the odds?)
        Another “Lonely Planet Couple” (LPC) walks by, looking for the same place we already found.  The third in the last hour, the fourth, counting us, as drones following what Indians call “The Bible” because it is what we foreigners blindly follow.  We are all drones, we must dig deeper.  As if on cue, Clari finds some other place we should go, off this worn-down path of Lonely Planet automata. 


Speaking of which, the Taj Mahal was sublime.  Couldn’t believe I was actually there, but I was, and I still am, like the old lady who is still begging for a couple of rupees behind the glass.  

6 comments:

  1. Estamos felices de escuchar sobre sus experiencias y sobretodo saber que están bien.

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  2. Me alegro q esten bien y, pasandola bien, las fotos estan brutales , un abrazo y cuidense

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  3. Namaste: Aqui estamois Juan Carlos y yo en mi tienda observando esta maravillosas fotos. Ya vemos que la estan pasando bien. Juan Carlos esta que se babea se siente transportado y dice que estara con stedes en alma cuando este con el Dalai Lama. Muchos carinos Yoly

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  4. A ver Juanse cuando se te ve en una foto.

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