Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Rickshaws that Snake and Honk in the Night

So tomorrow I go into exile. Apparently. Exile of not speaking for ten days and for spending some quality time with myself. Vipassana. Steam.

This past weekend I found myself taking a scheduled trip (thanks, EAP) to Jaipur and Agra. I saw some amazing things –
One of which,
The Taj Mahal; ahem, THE Taj Mahal –
Materialization of a cotton wisp perched on a passing cloud… white marble bathing in the sun’s reflection and rolling over and over itself by my vision in an aesthetically elating view of construction.
Isn’t is amazing that we can put together something so delicate, yet gargantuan? Something so round, with carved floral patterns that breath from sandstone setting. The red mosques that contrast substantially with the white perfection of marble stone framing the palace, standing so beautifully and yet so powerfully overtaken by the beauty of the Taj itself.
And I’ll have you know, that the Taj was built for love; which makes it all the more amazing. Commemorating the love of Shahjahan and his wife who died prematurely in life during a tragic child birthing experience - - - - - - - - -
How romantic, non?

This weekend also made me realize the satisfaction of traveling on your own. We were shipped around via charter bus every place we visited. The sites themselves were breathtaking, but the means of getting there in languid processions was uncomfortable yet compensated by the bulging meals that our hotels offered us. It made me realize the value of finding your own way – of toiling over the journey itself to get somewhere. That’s all part of it. Getting there. When you cut that out, you cut out half the story.

Nevertheless, this weekend was a beauty. Full of forts – tall and bulbous and sprawling red sandstone and drawbridges and elephant rides and walls that outlined mountain ridges…

Vast beauty.

And now I am in Delhi. And tomorrow I go to Vipassana land! I guess you could call this apprehension – but laced with excitement! I know that some things you can only experience when you put yourself through the entirety of the experience (some things? Perhaps most things); there’s only one way to see what happens after you spend ten days sitting with your thoughts and your self and the world in a large simultaneous binge of silence and solitude. And that is to close your eyes and think really hard.
Or, to provide a probably more accurate depiction, just do it.
Ten days in the grand scheme of things really isn’t that long. I’m sure it will slip by in an eye blink – or at least it will feel that way when I look back on it for years to come. I’m well aware that the moment itself will probably exercise its ability to stretch itself into oblivion.

Oh god.

Tonight we also ventured to Kareme’s – an excellent restaurant attached to a hotel in Chandni Chowk – the metro stop that we embark upon for our spices and dried fruit and nuts and tea and tasty things like that. This restaurant is in close proximity to the biggest mosque in India and is only open after sunset during Ramadan. Doesn’t that mean it must be really, ridiculously good?


I still am overwhelmed by the massive amount of people that were flooding the streets at this time… after the shade of the hidden sun descended upon the city, this area LIT UP with floods of people and lights. Street vendors selling everything from fabric to chai to fried chicken to tandoori chicken to sweets to shirts to bangles and bangles and bangles just lined the streets and the people walked and bumped and meandered through the maze of buildings… and I found myself bumping into every person; impossible to stop unless you sit with a six rupee chai on a tin box while straddling buckets of soaking soapy dishes. Smells and sensations always here.

Always here. Always here.

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