A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.


"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Final Words on India

How can I part without a love note to chai tea? The chai, rich with cardamom, is delicious and sweet and buttery good. We purchased some tea in a little clay pot from a Chai-wallah on the street. Unsure of what to do once it was drunk, we were instructed to throw it on the ground into pieces. So we did. A bit guiltily.

And I will miss all the head waddling: how the Indians say yes by shaking their head side to side like a charming little bobble head.

I may have said it before: it’s dirty in India, but I still want to make a fashion statement. What’s a girl to do? How about a hot pink face mask, the chic accessory of choice to filter out unappetizing smells and urban pollution alike.


I never knew that the Swastika symbol was a holy and auspicious Hindu symbol. It is everywhere: on temples, statues, altars, etched onto doorways, and ever present in festivals and ceremonies. One of 108 symbols for the Hindu deity Vishnu representing the sun's rays.


Being stigmatized so heavily in the West, as the symbol of the Nazi party, it induced from me more scorn than curiosity. I was fascinated to dig deeper into the use of the swastika throughout history as a symbol of good luck. If you are interested there is a good Wikipedia article about it. (I'm hoping right now I'm not the only one who didn't know!)

We watched a fair amount of TV in India to escape the heat and stem late-night boredom in our guestroom. Other than the Samsung commercial that is burned on our brains, we learned that most woman are mightily concerned with "hair fall" and most men want a Mont Blanc pen so they have "the power to write their own destiny". Damn advertising, I can’t believe this is one of the memories I leave India with!


India is a dizzying, fascinating country that feels like a blur from the inside of a tuk-tuk as easily as it could be the inside of a cuisinart. Flashes of bright rainbow colored saris, henna'd hair, red bindis on the forehead, hands in mudra, sacred cows, and miles of marigold garlands. I feel like I didn’t get deep enough, or entrenched enough in the culture. But at the same time, it was as much as I could bear for my first trip to the sub-continent.

Of India, people say you either love it or hate it, there is nothing in between. I don't think it has to be quite that stark, but it is certain the country will evoke strong emotion and wring out every neuron in your brain. In a single afternoon walk you can run through the gamut of awe, disgust, confusion, rapture and back again.


I'm intrigued enough to return, under different circumstances and different auspices (and lots more money!)  for the list of experiences left undone. I didn't have the nerve to visit (or run away to) an ashram. My turned ankle kept me from 908 asanas on the Ganga. I didn't take a houseboat ride on Dal Lake up north in Kashmir or visit the beauty of Kerala state and eat masala dosa in the south. And most distressing, I didn't see any tigers!

What I wouldn't give to see these furry critters taking a romantic dip, awwwww....

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