Saturday, October 23, 2010

sweep it back up

I’m not entirely sure where all this time went. Somewhere, it has been lost in the South of India. For the first seventeen days of October I have been romping around the Southern parts of this spicy place. Hopping on trains and busses, only to sleep in dream-filled sleeps where I come to awake at some new beach-y coast where the sun or rain awaits me. Brings a rolling shore that never quiets. I haven’t seen a coast for sometime, so this trip truly has been a treat.

The Commonwealth Games occurred in the first two weeks of October. Imagine the Olympics, but smaller, and consisting of the Commonwealth countries. Surely, as we were granted a ‘holiday’ from school during this time, we escaped the mass hysteria of Delhi.

I can’t really begin to type of my travels. Mostly, I have learned that traveling really isn’t that much of a trial as it seems when you find yourself stationary in an area of inhabitance. And now that I am back in Delhi, I only crave to travel more…

Puducherry was our first destination. It took us a fourty-four hours train ride and a four hour bus ride to reach this initial destination. That’s a lot of fours. We were greeted by sky and endless tufts of white clouds. I can’t even tell you how much of a relief it was to be met by a site of expansive blue: Delhi is permanently covered by a cap of gray pollution, always. In puducherry there were bikes that took us places in out and beyond… To ride a bike is something I truly miss here in Delhi. We do see bikes everywhere, but all are rusted with an ancient creak. Covered in a thick layer of rust and dust. Not to mention you must ride them in thick dense traffic accompanied by cars and buses and trucks and rickshaws – all different speeds are swooshing beyond you on these bikes.

Beyond Puducherry, which sits on the Eastern coast of India, we trained to the Western side of this place - - - -
To Kerela! Kerela greeted us with unfortunate amounts of rain, but the coast of Varkala beach was all the more dream-like with a thick layer of moist mist pervading the water-lined horizon. Due to the rain that we encountered here, we mostly found ourselves in delicious restaurants/cafes/bars that offered us the best of seafood wrapped in banana leaves, spicy steam arising from each plate brought to us. We sat with warm ginger tea or deep milky coffee underneath awnings that protected us from moist fat drops which spattered the ocean ahead…

Every place on Earth is beautiful, really, even when drops fall from the sky ‘ruining’ a true beach experience…

From Varkala, we bussed up to Alleppey, where we found ourselves on a houseboat. One of those ‘must do’ experiences that sounds just as romantic as it actually is. We floated around the backwaters of Kerela and swam/bathed in them side by side with plants and a warm, slow current. We booked it up to Fort Kochi from here, which also greeted us with an unfortunate layer of rain – again we found ourselves diving into culinary pleasures. During the clear skies that we did get here, we marched our way around the city and ran across men sitting in a three-walled room with sacks of potatoes lining their surroundings. Thick black rats slicked with grease ran through disgusting ‘creeks’ that may have well been a sewage line. We smelled spices that followed our heels, and the deep blues that crusted themselves on the edges of moldy green buildings were especially bright… everything looked decayed, somehow, in the most brilliant way. Like a fairyland that you would want to run around in at age seven.

From Fort Kochin, we trained up to Goa, where the beaches sprawled and the sun yelled into our bleach-white skin. This was the most ‘relaxed’ part of our adventure, where we managed to sit still for four days, and soak up the glare of sunrays. The beaches of Goa are definitely something to behold; something that I was never too excited about, yet managed to puddle as one of the most enjoyable Vitamin-D packed parts of our adventures. You can’t expect anything from this place except the strange enclave of India that it is… People here seem to cling to the idea that Goa is a “party” place – you’ll see old men with rose-tinted sunglasses and thong speedos. You’ll see old women swimming out into the midst of a calm ocean trying to escape their own existence. You’ll see an egg yolk cracked over a blushing horizon. You’ll see an impossibly tan woman in crinkled brown skin, roasted and spiced. You’ll experience personal ecstasy, allowing your entire weight to float along on the gentle current of a harmlessly tumbling sea, back facing the ocean floor, front facing the bleating sun…..

From Goa we found ourselves trapped on an impossible train ride, where we didn’t think we had a place to sleep it was much past our bedtime. Would we find ourselves huddled in an isle way? Our damp sweat cooled by the breeze from the doorway that faces a dew-laden flooded rice field? We ended up finding berths for our bodies to find rest upon, and in the morning we landed in Mumbai.

In Mumbai our time was short. We mostly drank sugarcane juice and sampled other flavorful delights while walking around the crescent-shaped coast. Mumbai as a gigantic city is an entirely different beast that Delhi. Reminded me of San Francisco with an elder architecture. More of a college town, it seems, with females that can actually grasp a sense of independence; as I was able to walk around past eleven pee.em without feeling threatened or dependent upon a male peer.

I hate for that last statement to seem to glum in the existence of Delhi, but upon my return here I cannot help but feel more and more encapsulated by suppression. I don’t know why the hazy layer of pollution seems to be dwelling on my existence more so than ever, but after feeling as liberated as I had over the past seventeen days of travel, coming back to Delhi has reminded me that possessing white skin attracts attention of all sorts. I can never gleam a sense of anonymity when every eye seems pasted on me… I know that each eye is nothing, really, just a curious flicker of some other person’s consciousness; but I can’t help but feel intensely scrutinized whenever I step out of my apartment. Perhaps it is also the winks and tongue lolls that I get from passing males…

Anyway, my travels have landed me back in Delhi, ready for school work and dig into spirituality, philosophy, and the like. I have also signed up for another three day Vipassana meditation session. It seems to be something that my mentality craves. Don’t we all crave a little bit of inner peace every now and again?

1 comment:

  1. Nina: Sounds as if you're having a wonderful time .. at the very least character building. Looking forward to seeing you in January.

    Uncle Peter