In a matter of 4 weeks, I traversed the world. 7 days in Paris, 5 days in the States, 10 days in Vietnam, so far 9 days in India. I’m exhausted, worn out, KOed, done.
Delhi’s customs area looked as if El Nino skipped through. The steel-lined ceiling of panels sporadically peeling, hanging but a foot-length from passengers’ heads, of popping electric wires, and ad-boarded walls. Above where the custom officers sat, a fishing net was discreetly placed to cover all the thingamabobs emerging from within the ceiling. The whole place : an upside down shipwreck: the ceiling a deck, the walls, a wooden body, the net, a tool, the people, dying gasping fish.
First impressions plus built up exhaustion: not so good.
Outside, fumes push the murkiness, horns and engines push the limits of my ears…The streets here remind me of Hanoi, only in a more extreme form and perhaps several millions more in terms of people involved, plus an array of strayed animals just kind of hanging out in the mist of traffic: lying cows, trotting pigs, lost dogs, stealing monkeys, you name it. Fiasco, you say? only the start. People line the streets, not because they are going somewhere but because the sidewalks are their homes. Children sleep under the shadow-shielding stomachs of parking trucks as cows and their fellow flies trot by, women bathe their babies as cars, rickshaws, and motorcycles speed by, men using street walls as their personal toilets as the rest of Delhi stand by. Shocked am I culturally, assaulted am I visually. It is very different, no doubt.
In addition, I’ve developed monkey phobia after this weekend, the highlight of which was supposed to be Taj Mahal, yet all I can remember is this monkey who attacked Regine, a German friend who lives in my house. We had made a stop-by in i’m-not-sure-where to see a temple. The temple, which prohibited shoes but had no shoe watcher, was 15′ away from the car. The result: Us walking barefooted through the village, to the left: lovely cow poop, to the right: lovely dog poop…a sensual experience for the feet, no? From the top of sidewalk lining houses, monkey eyes watched us attentively as we tip-toed through the small village. And then all I could remember was a furry blur next to Regine’s feet, before we knew it, there it was on her head, a full-grown monkey. It scratched her forehead, grabbed her 300-Euro glasses, and within 2 seconds, was on top of a nearby building. We lowered our heels, stood there, mortified, shocked, violated, frightened, feeling all the possible horrible feelings you could feel. It took many a biscuit and 100 rupees to pay a man to ‘convince’ Mr.Monkey to return the pair of glasses. And that is how I have this phobia now, every time I see a monkey in this city, I pull my shoulders to my neck, in fear of it jumping full-speed at me. Look at its picture, one hand holding the pair of glasses, one hand holding negotiation treats, you’d be horrified too!
My haven: our house. Hien and I luckily live with about 8 other people, most of them Indian and there’s Regine who’s German. There’s also a personal cook despite the amount of vegetarian food we’ve been getting. It makes going through this experience a bit more lightening and they are pretty entertaining, our newly made friends. Otherwise, Hien and I keep each other company in our daily complaining and homesickness. CSE is also quite nice with people who have been very helpful. It’s just a rickshaw ride of hell everyday away from Faridabad, where we live. Btw, a rickshaw: definition: a cart from a ferris wheel that fell on a vespa motorcycle. This, stuck in traffic and rolling on a rocky road, is horror.
Another silver lining on my rain-filled cloud, there’s a week-long field trip this Monday. It’ll be good to explore a bit, change the setting a little. Downside, we’ll be traveling in vans over night, “unsleepable” in…Hopefully, there’ll be no barefooting, and no monkeys. Miss home lots and lots.