Tuesday, July 21, 2009


delhi, india

it is at once everything that i expected and nothing that i was prepared for. that's not to say that delhi is overwhelming, though it is very easy to imagine how this could be the case for some. it's more that there is no way to prepare the central nervous system for a stroll through delhi. walking through delhi is like watching the men's, women's, doubles, and mixed doubles finals of wimbledon all being played on the same court at the same time. and you're standing in front of the net.

the streets are a parade for the senses. walking through a narrow bazaar or down one of the narrower side-alleys is to walk past a store with refulgent jewelry, then another lined floor-to-ceiling with colorful shawls and saris, then one with basic sundries densely aligned along its walls. if those aren't distracting enough, then add to it all the decorative signs at eye-level and those for businesses on the two or three floors above. all the while you have to be mindful of human traffic, potholes, puddles, and all the passing bicycle-rickshaws, autorickshaws, and mopeds swerving their way through. the spice shops and incense stands are felicitously placed past the open-air urinals to help you forget what you just smelled. then a quick stop and 10 rupees (20 cents) gets some fresh-squeezed orange juice to wash out the residue from the few-too-many kingfishers you put back the night before with those crazy australians.

and then the people. they are absolutely beautiful in the way that only people with unexpected physical features can be. some are darker, others more asiatic, some have flowing white beards while others recently visited the hindi makeup stand. similar to africa, walking the streets here invites looks from everybody. but while i was used to receiving attention or at least being able to elicit a smile with a mere wave in africa, it's different here. it's more than a stare but less than a scowl, but they look so intense, so stern when they look at you. they're sterning at you. and they are everywhere. delhi feels like a garden where the people are the nonnative species that was introduced and flourished just a little too successfully. an indian census demographer's job is more difficult than trying to count single strands of fabio's hair in a wind tunnel.

from the department of can't make this up
the two nights that i spent in accra were at the salvation army where they have some dorm beds with prices friendly on the traveler's cedi. both times i was there, morning meetings were called for all of the staff. you guessed it: they used a hand bell to call everyone to assemble. since i did not see the person ringing the bell, it remains possible that said person is wearing a santa claus costume.

if you fly air emirates and have a connection in dubai, there is a restaurant with a complementary buffet. i noticed when a family sat at the adjacent table that the woman, clad in a full black burka down to her yellow shoes, was also wearing a wedding ring. my guess is that the wedding ring is a reminder that she is married, just in case one couldn't already tell.


shriya said...

Omg!!! You are there! YAY!! I can't wait to hear/read your thoughts. un fuerte abrazo.

Judy said...

Reading your blog is like an adventure for me. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine being there, with your vivid descriptions, it's hard not to. Enjoy ever minute of it mi amor, take in as much as you can.