Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Race That Never Ends

O my goodnesssss. Inida! Mother India!! After landing, we were wisked away to Paharganj, the poorest neighborhood in New Delhi (I don't think we knew this when making reservations), where we spent two nights at Hotel Namaskar. Enormous cows and skinny dogs (many lactating but with no pups around..) wander around docily, eating whatever they find. Confettied egg shells glued together with greening yolks, shit spliced into sections from bike wheels, rotting, slimy greens, stagnant puddles of urine, old paper packages... all of these things make up the streets of Paharganj. Waste of all sorts is everywhere and it is picked over again and again until it is swept aside by some diligent street vendor and becomes permamently a part of this place, it seems. I'm glad we stayed where we did because I don't think we would have been brave enough to explore the area in depth had we approached it from a nicer side of the city. Plus the best chai I've had so far was made by a guy around the corner from us. (a cup cost Rs. 4 = 10 cents)

The driving is mayhem. NO EXAGERATION. It is a miracle there aren't accidents everywhere. (A couple times I thought we were done for.) Indian drivers make European drivers look ilke sissies - and Torontonians like babies. It is a constant race; everyone is always trying to pass everyone else. They will drive on all sides of the road at absurd speeds and the noise is deafening. (The most important part of any vehicle is its horn.) Yesterday we took a 6 hour taxi ride from New Delhi to Rishikesh (where we are now). People running through traffic, bicylces, auto-rickshaws, non-autorickshaws (a person on a bike pulling a little wagon with 2 people or so), cars, vans, buses, trucks, cows, horses and wagons... and us in the back of a car with the most determined dirver of them all. In 6 hours we were not passed once. I can't imagine how long it would have taken us to get here if my mom were driving. ;)

It is great to be here in Rishikesh. This place is les chaotic than New Delhi and we are right on the Ganges River! There is a big suspension bridge to cross the Ganges and it looks stunning from afar when filled with women in bright clothing, baskets on their heads, motorcylces, cows and mokeys.

We've got stuff to do now. We've been taking some pictures and will try to post some at some point, but I'm realizing how inadequate pictures of this place are. Being here all your senses are tantalized, challenged, spanked, awakened. The smells, the sounds, the HEAT, the flavours... of course, the visuals are quite something.

ONE MORE THING: this morning, after the most intense yoga class I've ever experienced, we flushed our nasal pasages with salt water.. and attempted to floss them. This might not make sense to you; it seems crazy to me too.

Hope everyone's doing well at home!


Krishna Sivaranjan said...

Motorists in india are crazy. A family friend was telling me every so often dogs will walk into the middle of the road and just sleep because they no none of the motorists will run them over.

Another crazy thing to see in india are the motorcyclists. You can see like mothers carrying children, groceries and other crap at the same time while driving a motorcycle.

India is crazy lol

Steph-Joy said...

So glad to hear you both arrived safely! The picture you paint is certainly a potent one, Steph. I hope your senses don't become desensitized over your time there to all the wonder around you!

love always,

Mike said...

wow diesel, quite the writing. im glad things are goin well! the driver sounds amazing.

bob said...

If you see lactating dogs with no pups in evidence, be sure to avoid buying snacks at a street vendor (even though puppies are reputed to be quite tender). I'm glad you got your eyes open and are taking in everything that fills your long days. I can't wait to hear the stories you guys will tell when you get back.

Love, Dad

Donna said...

The gods must have been with you when you picked your driver!

Steph said...

Krish, yes. I couldn't believe it when I saw a family, babies included, stacked on a motorcycle on the hectic highway. yikes.

Thanks, Hasty. I'll try to hang on to some of my sensitivity, but drop enough to not go bananas 'round here. ;)

He was, mbesh.

Haha, Dad, I actually hadn't thought about that. What I did consider was the pups growing up and my favourite chai guy continuing to milk mama dog. But perhaps that funky chicken dish Pete had on day 2 was actually puppy surprise..

Yeah, we did feel lucky, Mom. Although we didn't exactly choose our driver. It was arranged by an office that claimed to be government owned. In retrospect, we should have been more careful, but we got here okay!