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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hello sister

"The real hypocrisy, I came  to  realise, was in the eyes and minds and  criticisms of those who came from lands of plenty, where no-one had to fight for  a seat on a train." Shantaram(Written by an Australian escaped convict, who lived in Mumbai for several years)

I read this line shortly after returning from India and it engulfed me. I read it over and over again. It made me re-examine my experience there. Like I said before, this can only be done properly with a bit of distance. I shall remember India not for the people who gawked, took pictures and pointed. I shall remember it for the simple man on the bus who told me I looked hungry and shared his chapati with me, or the Rajasthani man on the train who sang for me, or the owner of the tents who showed me true Goan hospitality, or the group or children who ran up to me to say "hello sister!" and shake my hand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Date#29- What's my name?(Part Deux)

Occupation:From a family of farmers/ran his own e-commerce business
Nationality:Punjabi- Canadian

The next day, I tried my best to avoid them. I spent most of the day on the beach, getting a massage, drinking several mango lassi and Kingfisher beers. It was my last day in Goa and I wanted to soak up every minute of it.  I had moved to the Canadian's house because they no longer had room for me in the tents(I sprung on them last minute that I wanted to stay an extra day. They were gracious enough to put me up in their home.) It wasn't until the evening when I ran into the trio. Skeet rushed over and gave me a big hug. I silently wondered what his brother told him. Chipper said hello, but it seemed awkward and tense. I joined them for a few minutes as they discussed their evening plans. They didn't invite me and I wasn't about to invite myself. I also had a very early wake-up call. When they were leaving, I asked if I could hitch a ride down the block in their taxi (it's a seven minute walk but not lit at all). During that very short short taxi ride they convinced me to join them for the evening.

We drove for about  20 kms to a night market. Shortly after we got there, Skeet and white-dread went ventured off and Chipper was engaged in some asinine conversation with other foreigners. I was busy looking at earrings. He came strolling over and asked where his brother and white-dread were. I thought he knew of their whereabouts. We had lost them. We spent about twenty minutes searching. It was a very large market and none of us had cell phones(well I had one but I wasn't prepared to use it and incur large roaming fees.) We came to the realisation that our search was futile. We decided to enjoy the night market. After all,they were adults and they had one another.

We strolled through the market, he held my hand and tried kissing me. I let him even though I hate PDA and I had no interest in him. I stopped at a booth and wanted to purchase some paper stars. He said" let me handle this." He haggled with the vendor, in Hindi, to the point of exhaustion. The man told us to leave. I did not get my paper stars. Great handling...

We stood listening to some live music, when he saw someone he knew. He chatted for a while and then went to introduce us " Shawn this is........Umm....Umm....Sorry what's your name again?" OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The same guy who stuck his tongue down my throat, and wanted to come into my tent and hold my hand, also forgets my good name. BLASPHEMY! I stood there in shock for a couple of seconds. I managed to utter "Rhodesia" through a clenched jaw. My mind was a flurry with thoughts of how to punish the heathen. After his friend left, I remained quiet. He asked me what was wrong to which I replied" the same guy that sticks his tongue down my throat and wants to come into my tent, doesn't recall my name...interesting." He apologised profusely for several minutes. It was then it dawned on me that I was stuck with this turdbasket for the rest of the night. His friend and brother were nowhere in site and I didn't want to take a taxi back to the tents on my own. It was also my last night in Goa. I swallowed my pride and decided to continue  on with the evening (although I was cruel to him on several occasions and I thoroughly enjoyed it.)

We decided to head to the club called "Tito's". It has the distinction of being the largest and cheesiest club in Goa. That was the original plan and we thought maybe, we might run into his party. We arrived and paid some ridiculous entrance fee(well maybe $5). The club was separated into two sides:Indian music on one, and Electronic/Techno music on the other. We stayed on the Indian side for a while. At times I felt like he was trying to be controversial by dancing extremely close to me...just a feeling I had. When a Punjabi song came on, he went crazy! With the subsequent Punjabi songs, he felt the need to translate the lyrics for me...After the third song, I had to suppress the urge to stab him in his trachea. Instead, I suggested we go to the other side. Loud, infuriating techno, was the music of choice. I took a swig of some liquor and tried to dance to the repugnant music. He spotted a young Indian man dancing with his girlfriend and said "sometimes I look at my people and think we can't dance. Lemme show him how it's done. "

What followed was something I could only describe as a  mystifying display of jutting arms, moving out of sync with flailing legs, something not unlike this. I saw two Russian girls laughing hysterically in the corner. I was too horrified to laugh or speak or breathe. I had no intention of giving him the poon, but now there was a better chance of him mounting a cow. We left shortly after.

 I decided to be nice to him. I didn't slap his hand away when he went to hold it. I didn't pull away when he went in for a kiss. It was all part of my plan. We searched for a rickshaw and I stood on the sidelines and watched him haggle with the rickshaw driver. He grabbed my arm and said "let's start walking".

I said "why can't we just get in the rickshaw? We can't walk from here."
"He's going to follow us and I'll get my price."

I was beyond annoyed. The rickshaw driver, as predicted, came roaring up beside us. We only paid 50 rupees less than the original asking price, for twenty minutes of my life that I will never get back! Was it worth it? Really?

We arrived back at the tents. We ran into white dread, who had lost his brother at the market and was hopping on her scooter to go find him. I used the bathroom in his tent and when I emerged, he looked surprised that I came out. I think he was expecting me to disrobe and lie there waiting for him. NOT BLOODY LIKELY! I asked him to walk me to the Canadian's house, which was a only a block away, but at night its frighteningly dark. He agreed.

We stood outside her house, where he proceeded to assault my mouth. I waited until he was sufficiently aroused and said "What's my name?"
"Peace out!"

I left him standing there on the porch.

Date#29- What's my name?

Occupation:From a family of farmers/ran his own e-commerce business
Nationality:Punjabi- Canadian

I had settled into my favourite accommodation in Anjuna, Goa. (I'm cautious in my wording of this entry because I am paranoid that certain people may google things and find this blog.) One of the owners was an amazing Canadian woman who took me under her wings. When another batch of Canadians came to stay(which is rare, as it's mostly European tourists) she introduced me during dinner. They came in three: twin brothers Chipper and Skeet(these were not their names but close enough) and their female friend of the white-dread variety. They hailed from Vancouver and made a few jokes about Toronto. Skeet told me of his life back home with his partner. Chipper showed me pictures of their trip and a luxurious wedding they attended in Punjab. I noticed Chipper kept giving me the eye(which I'd promptly turn away from). Chipper was about 6'1, fair(Indian)skin, clean shaven head and face, thick dark eyebrows that framed his large brown eyes. He was moderately handsome, but no panty-wetter by any means. They invited me to spend the evening with them. I agreed.

We went to a bar that played live music. The hippies played blues, jazz, blue grass and everything in between. I tried Caju/Feni(local potent liquor made from cashews) for the first time.We left to attend some lame ass trance party. For me, trance is the kind of music that requires youth and inebriation to enjoy. I no longer had the former, so I went with the latter and had another shot of Feni. Shortly after Skeet left. So the three of us, Chipper, white dread and I decided to walk to the other end of the beach to check out another party. When we passed our tents white-dread decided she wanted to use the washroom and she'd meet us further down the beach. Chipper and I walked until we found a lounge chair and sat there staring at the full moon and stars. He ruined the moment by saying"this would be a great make-out spot!" He then turned and kissed me. I knew from that moment I had absolutely no interest in him, but as he swallowed my face I thought" well, I've got nothing better to do." I interrupted the succubus to tell him we should keep walking and find the other party. We trekked for a short while and then he suddenly stopped. We stood there, on the rocks, with the Arabian Sea crashing against them. As he tried to stick his tongue down my throat, I couldn't help think about how perfect this moment would be with someone I actually liked. The white dread returned and we looked for the party in vain. We decided to call it a night.

As we entered our tent area, security(from bamboo cabanas on stilts) flashed light in our faces, making sure we were guests. White dread headed towards her tent and I noticed someone trailing behind me. When I got to my tent, I turned and said" ok then, goodnight." To which he replies" oh, um, I thought I could come in and snuggle." Ummm, HELL to the NO! Instead, I politely told him that eyes were watching (I could see the staff in the cabanas flashlights aimed at us, watching it all go down.) I told him he could join me on my terrace for a chat. We sat there for a while until I declared I was tired and going to bed. He leaned in for a kiss. I said no and pointed to the cabana. He asked me why I cared what they thought. I had become friendly with some of the guys who worked there. They already view western women as easy. I didn't want to solidify this image. Perhaps I would have for someone I liked...

Continuation in part deux

Monday, March 21, 2011


Name: Deepak(that was actually his real name. I know there is no chance in hell of him seeing this so...)

I took a stroll down Palolem Beach, looking for somewhere to dine. I randomly picked a spot and a young, handsome waiter approached. I ordered a Goan steak(because I knew for the rest of the trip, finding beef would prove difficult). We spoke briefly. I noted his accent and features were quite unusual for the region. I asked him where he was from, to which he said"Nepal" with a big endearing smile. I ate my meal and left in search of a lame party(because of noise laws, loud music must cease at 10pm. So they have headphone parties...which is as wack as it sounds).

The following night I attempted to walk past the restaurant to use the Internet cafe next door. I had to intention of eating there again(the food was good but I like to mix it up). Deepak saw me and inquired where I was going and if I was coming to eat dinner. There was something really calming about his presence, so I promised I would come back.

I sat down to an enjoyable dinner with Deepak frequently coming to my table to check up on me and engage in conversation. When I finished my meal, he asked if we could sit for a while. We walked over some tables on the beach and he pulled out a chair for me. He spoke in short,terse sentences and often apologized for his English.  He felt like he spoke too much. I told him to keep talking, I found him something about him intoxicating—not in a sexual way, but he drew me in.  He told me of his family back in Kathmandu, saving money for his sister's dowry, and turmoil of living far from home. He wondered why, at my age I wasn't married. I tried to come up with a feasible answer. I didn't have one. I asked him why he wasn't married or engaged. He wanted to ensure his sister was married and then his mother would find someone for him. He told me of his dreams to start a restaurant in a smaller town near by and told me about how delicious Nepali food is. We sat there for a long time, just chatting. There was something about his energy that was calming for me. I liked him.

 Loud techno music blared from the other end of the beach. I asked him if he went to the parties to which he replied"No, no. I make 100 rupees a night. Enter is 500 rupees." I was embarrassed at my ignorance. It was getting late, so I told him I had to go. He said "wait,wait,wait one minute". He ran to the shop next door and came back with a small Goan treat that looked like peanut brittle. I was moved by the gesture(even though I had no intention of eating it because I detest peanuts). I clasped his hand and slipped a $10CAD note to him. I told him it was for his restaurant. I didn't mean for it to be demeaning, condescending or charity; I genuinely wanted this to go towards his endeavour. He promptly put the note in his pocket. He gave me his email address and password. I told him I didn't need the password and tried to explain that he shouldn't  give it out.  I gave him a kiss on the cheek and said goodbye.

That night I had a very strange dream. I lay sleeping in my beach hut, when a sudden swarm of locusts enveloped the room. The bamboo door burst open and a shirtless Deepak swept me off my feet and rescued me. The dream flashed forward to a life in Nepal. I had abandoned any semblance of my life in Canada. Deepak and I trekking  through the foothills of the Himalaya's with our two children Lakshmi and Deepak jr. The sound of roosters crowing, just outside my hut, awoke me from that blissful dream...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Images from the sub-continent

I thought I would share a few of my favourite images from my trip.

Bullet hole at Cafe Leopolds.

Anjuna, Goa

Palolem beach, Goa

Anjuna, Goa

Anjuna, Goa

Anjuna, Goa






Village near Bikaner, Rajasthan

Village near Bikaner, Rajasthan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


If you were keeping up with my tweets, you know a portion of the trip was quite...rough for me. I don't regret any part of my  journey to India. For the first three weeks it was pretty much smooth sailing. I had been to Mumbai, Goa, Chennai and Sri Lanka. Sometimes people stared but it wasn't overwhelming. When I got to Delhi, things changes. I don't want to make my trip seem all negavtive—it wasn't, but I like to get the bad stuff out of the way first and then move on to the good times. There was about a week of rough times. Out of five weeks, that's not too bad.  There will be more posts coming soon. I just needed to vent. Here we go:

I arrived at the Delhi airport, arranged a pre-paid taxi, found the stand, loaded my luggage and hopped in. My driver spoke no English and neither did his partner in the passenger seat. (I am not a fan of people going to foreign country and expecting locals to speak English, but when you work from an international airport, minimal English would be nice). I showed him my hotel's address and we went on our way. We weren't even driving for five minutes when he saw two friends on the road and stopped to talk to them and was about to give them a ride until I said "UM, NO! HOTEL!"

We drove until we were in the general area( Karol Bagh). From the time we left the airport until I reached my hotel, was 90 minutes. This trip should  have only take 30. The simpleton couldn't find the hotel. Imagine being in a taxi with two men(who don't speak English), in the middle of Delhi, lost. A barrage of phone calls ensued. I called the booking office because the number listed for the hotel was wrong. They spoke to my driver and he still couldn't find it. It was a nightmare. When we finally got to my hotel he demanded a tip because he had used his cell phone. The hotel staff were telling him to go. He wouldn't. To get rid of him I gave him 100 rupees. A decision I still regret but that was before the fire was ignited in me.

The next day I went of a tour of Delhi's various sites. The moment I stepped outside, the incessant stares began. Everywhere I went people stared relentlessly, glared, intruded my private space. I had experienced this before on my travels, but never to this extent. I tried hard to suppress the fury that began to rise inside me, but I knew it was uncontainable. The anger only grew when I noticed people taking pictures of me. I'm generally a calm person and when I tell people these stories, they are shocked and say they can't picture me doing and saying these things. I liken my personality to a volcano. I may lay dormant for a very long time, but unexpectedly I erupt and it's impossible to contain the hot molten lava that I spew. (Side note:I was also in the midst of a cyclical mood which only added to my blind rage.) Here is an excerpt from my diary on one of those rough days:" I hate this place. I wish they didn't let me back in from Sri Lanka. There is swamp water coming out of my ass and if one more person stares at me I am going to shank them in the ribs and then I will end up in an Indian prison, never to be seen again. " Ummm, yeah. You get the jist of it. Here are a few examples :

#1. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had already had enough, when a hawker followed me for two blocks trying to sell me some useless trinket" Ma'am I give you good price. You no speak? Ma'am look at my things. Very nice things! Why you no answer?" At block number two, I stopped dead in my tracks, turned to him and yelled "I SAID NO!". He jumped back and scampered off.

#2. I was at a site when I noticed a girl (in her late teens)look at me, her eyes brightened and she raised her camera. Before she could snap a picture I walked up to her.
 "What are you doing?"
"Oh, um I just wanted to take a picture?"
"Do I know you?"
"Ummm no."
"Then why do you want a picture of me? It's very rude to just walk up to someone and take their picture without asking!"
"I'm sorry. May I have your picture?"

This story happened several times. At least 20 times a day I would see people trying to capture my image. Some of you may wonder why I was so offended by it. One of my reasons is that everything is so viral today. I have no idea where that picture would end up and what kind of caption would accompany it. In a place where fair skin is revered and I am the complete opposite of that, I don't think  they wanted my picture because they thought I was beautiful. I was a novelty, something to show their friends and say"look what I saw". I wanted no part of it.

#3. I was at the fort in Delhi. A few young men were sitting on the grass. When they saw me a lively conversation in Hindi began. I took the pepper spray out of my bag and held it at my side. One of the young men got up and hid behind a pillar. I knew exactly what he was doing. He was attempting to take an ambush style, paparazzi shot.  As I turned the corner I uttered" OI! FUCKFACE! You take a picture of me I will smash your face and your camera!"  He promptly lowered his phone and went back to his friends. As the words came out of my mouth, I couldn't believe I said them. When I told my friend this story, she asked me if I was scared. The answer is no. Blind fury kept me going.

#4. I waited in line at another site. Most sites have separate line ups for foreigners and locals. This one didn't. I watched as man after man pushed his way ahead of me. The anger started to rise and I said " I JUST WANT TO BUY A FUCKING TICKET!" They parted like the red sea and I walked to the front of the line and purchased my ticket. It was then I realised, that nice quiet, Rhodesia needed to take a back seat. The bitch was now in charge.

#5. The next day I went shopping. I purchased two dresses and a pair of pillow cases. I was now adept at haggling and got a good price. When I was almost back at my hotel,  I noticed my pillow cases weren't in my bag. I was furious because I am sure they did it on purpose, thinking it would be too much trouble for me to argue over 300 rupee pillow cases. They were wrong. I got back to my hotel and called them immediately. They passed me around to several people. I told them I was leaving the next day and they needed to deliver it. They asked where I was going and said its on the way and I could swing by and pick it up. I said no, deliver it. Almost two hours passed, no pillow cases. I call them again and ripped them a new one, telling them I would call the Indian consumer rights agency and tell them that they scam tourists. They delivered my pillow cases a few hours later, albeit with a 100rupee delivery charge. I cussed off the delivery guy for having to pay for something that was their fault. I feel bad for that one because he wasn't involved, but sometimes when you're on a rampage there is collateral damage.

#6. I arrived in Jaipur after my crazy bus ride. When I got off the bus there was no driver waiting for me. I had to call him(I didn't rampage on him then, but I had other reasons to later). I arrived to my hotel, which looked decent enough...until I took a closer look. There were two holes in wall that they covered with cello tape(no big deal, it made me laugh)Then I saw the duvet..filthy wouldn't be an adequate word. I went downstairs and asked for them to change it.  I waited 45 minutes, no one came. I took a picture of the duvet and marched back downstairs and went on another rampage. They changed my sheets within five minutes.

#7. My last night in Jaipur my driver took me to a traditional Rajasthani village where they serve dinner and perform folk dances, etc. It was about a 30km drive from the city. On the drive back this happens:
" Ok, so you pay me 10,000 rupees"
"Excuse me?"
"Sorry  you pay me 1000 rupees"
"For what?"
"Taking you to Choki Dani."
"No...No, I don't. It was included"
"No, no, no, no. It no include! Is 30km out of way. You give me 1000 rupees."
"I'm not giving you anything. I'm going to call Manesh(agent who booked the tour for me) and he'll sort you out. If it was an extra charge, you should have told me before hand and I would have stayed my ass at the hotel! Don't try and pull this shit on me."

Needless to say the rest the ride was quiet. I called Manesh and he dealt with it.

That night I had a phone call from my saviour—Stephanie. I was able to relay all of my frustrations to someone who completely understood. She gave me perspective and kept me sane in a moment where I wanted to hurt people.

The same driver was to pick me up at 5:00 am to catch my train to Agra. In the morning there was no driver. My hotel  had to call him and he arrived at 5:30am. The ride was silent. We arrived, I collected my bags and left. No goodbye, no tip.

When I walked into the Jaipur train station at 6:00am, I was the only foreigner on the platform. There was only maybe five women( one girl came and stood beside me for a while. I think she felt sorry for me and a bit protective) and about a hundred men. All eyes were on me. I wasn't scared, but I kept my pepper spray at my side, just in case. Several young men circled, openly looking at my bags. I glared back with a defiant "I will shank you" look.

Things started to look up from there. There are a few more incidents that I didn't share because this post is long enough as is and I think this was enough to give you an idea. It was my conversation with a friend and a subsequent conversation with a stranger that put things into perspective and calmed my frayed nerves. I am beyond grateful for these instances because there were plenty of times in the past, where I did not stand up for myself. This was my boiling point.

Monday, March 14, 2011



While in India, I went on a camel safari. We camped in the Thar desert overnight. This was an unforgettable experience, in many ways....

I settled in Bikaner, Rajasthan for a few days. The first day I went on a tour of local palaces and havelis. I also ventured to Deshnok to see the infamous Karni Mata temple(also know as the rat temple.... more on this in forthcoming post). Joining me on this tour was a slender, fair skinned Punjabi man in his late thirties. At first glance I assumed he was Persian and also gay. He was neither. I found him a bit odd, but day one went off without a hitch.

The following day, my unforgettable camel safari commenced. Joining Punjabi Perv and I, was a couple Sara and Dave(she was American, he was a Brit). On our jeep ride through small towns, we engaged in a lively conversation about our experiences thus far in India. I complained about people staring and taking pictures of me. She bemoaned about having her breast grabbed. She thought because she was a ginger, she received a little extra attention.  I concurred.

We arrived at the camel station, where we were instructed to select our  desert beast. I picked a young male named Raja(which means king, fitting for someone as regal as myself). It ended up being a wise decision because the rest of the party got stuck with older males, of mating age that kept doing this vile thing. Raja, like me was virginal and had no interest in mating. As I got closer to Raja, I had a change of heart. I wanted to go back to the guest house and not mount the smelly beast. I quieted my inner coward and mounted Raja like a queen( not really I almost fell off). Each of us had our own camel guide. My guide kept leaving my camel unattended to go smoke cigarettes and talk on his cell phone.

Our jaunt took us through small villages(I captured two of my favourite images on this ride). After two hours of riding we stopped for lunch. They cooked us an amazing Rajasthani vegetarian meal. We continued for another two hours. My couter bone was incredibly sore and my right leg was numb. For an hour I wanted to remove my foot from the stirrup to stretch, but I feared Raja would lead me into yet another bush; I would tumble, get trampled by a herd of camels and then they would have to ship my battered body back to Canada and I would end up on one of those shows like "100 crazy ways to die". I kept my foot in the stirrup.

We stopped and our guides set up three tents. They made us  afternoon tea, then dinner. Even though the surroundings were sparse, I had to pinch myself— I was eating dinner in the Thar desert, gazing at the stars, with  Rajasthani folk music in the background, from a temple over the dune. After dinner, they set up a camp fire. Punjabi Perv and I went and sat in front of the fire. That is when the following exchange happened...(insert Punjabi accent in PP's lines)

PP: So do you know where my tent is?

ME:(I turn and look at the three tents wondering where this turdbasket is going)Yeah...Its the one at the end.

PP: Ok good, good. I just wanted to let you know that I can offer you very nice oral sex and also full body massage....

ME: Ummmm.....No, I'm good thanks.

PP: But we cannot have sex because I do not have a condom
(yeah, because that's the reason we wouldn't be having sex)

ME: Yeah, but NO. No thanks.

PP:Shhh. Do not answer yet. Think about for a while. I am very gifted with the oral. You know where my tent is.

I was amused and horrified at the same time. Amused that this would happen to me in THE DESERT. Horrified because we were sleeping in tents, in the desert. I wondered what kind of man would offer to mangia a woman who had been riding a camel for 4 hours and peeing in a bush(my friend Josh said I should've let him at it).

Thankfully Sara and Dave came and sat by the fire. We all chatted for a while. I would catch him looking at me over the fire. When the fire died they went to get more thatch from a small house. I thought F**K! He starts again...

PP: I think they are going to have some fun

ME:No... No they aren't. They are going get stuff for the fire.

PP:No they are going to have fun. The house will shake soon. We should have fun we shouldn't.

When they returned, I asked Sara the accompany me to the ladies room(the bush) and I told her about PP. She said she thought he was a bit weird. She offered to share her tent with me and have Dave sleep in the middle tent.  I declined and said that my pepper spray and pen would be enough protection. We returned to the fire and I stayed for another hour and then retired to my tent. I put my backpack in front of the zip, inside my tent(as Sara instructed). I tried to settle in sleep until I heard something flap in the wind. I sat up in my tent, pepper spray in one hand and my pen in the other. (If you are wondering what I planned on doing with a pen...I planned on stabbing that bitch in the jugular). I settled again, until I heard what sounded like an animal at the back of my tent. I listened for an hour.

The next morning I commented that I thought I heard something at the back of my tent. Dave agreed. PP said "Oh really."
Later on, I looked at the back of my tent, I saw animal footprints but I also saw shoe prints...

We ate breakfast. Dave and Sara continued on a camel safari, while I had to head back with PP in a camel cart. It was a two hour ride in that cart with PP. In that time, I found out he was married with three children...He spewed crap about eating organic and staying away from processed foods, clean, healthy living, blah, blah, blah. Then he said the following "I don't smoke or drink I eat healthy. I'm turning forty but I have the body and agility of a twenty year old." I nearly tossed my breakfast. (Side note:He drank three large Kingfisher beers during the safari and also smoked two potent Indian hand-rolled cigarettes on the camel cart) I called him out on his hypocrisy. He said he was on vacation.... On vacation without your wife and three children. Brilliant. Upon arrival at the guest house I promptly fled the jeep(without saying good-bye)locked myself in my room and took a very long shower...

Saturday, March 12, 2011


As I was writing this post the other day, thousands of people were dying in Japan. I stopped writing because it was inconsequential compared to a massive earthquake, tsunami and people loosing their lives.  The post is actually about valuing life and the reminders I got along the way...

I boarded a tourist bus headed to Jaipur(from Delhi). It was one of those big volvo buses; Images of Rajasthan plastered all over it. I sat in seat #1. I noted that the bus had a sizable crack that started at the base of the windshield and flowered into a lovely pattern at the top. I thought to myself "that's just great".

I gingerly sat in my seat. I shifted from side to side trying to find a comfortable position. This proved quite difficult as I was suffering from an acute case of "Delhi belly".  As icing on the cake, my monthly friend came for a visit(only women will understand how herrendous this was) and it felt like hobbits were attacking my couter. I self-medicated with about eight Pepto Bismal chewable pills(which turn your tongue black) and advil.

I eventually settled into my book and the musical horn of the bus as he drove at high speeds, overtaking everyone and narrowly missing other cars, buses and rickshaws coming in the opposite direction(I was used to this by now). More than half-way through the journey, the bus came to a screeching halt.  I lurched forward, a few people gasped. I look up to see that he narrowly(and by narrowly I mean a few inches) missed a stalled truck. The driver uttered some expletives in Hindi and started backing up. It was then I noticed the "HIGHLY EXPLOSIVE MATERIAL" label at the rear of the truck. I started to laugh(I'm sure the other passengers thought I was a nutter). But what else could one do?

In Mumbai I ventured to the venerable Cafe Leopold's. It was very busy on the lower level so I was told to go upstairs, where I picked a random seat in the corner. I ordered a mango lassi and naan. I sat for a while, people watching. There was a window right beside me, from which I could see the lower level. I noticed a large crack in the glass. I traced the origin of the crack only to find a bullet hole. When my waiter came by I asked him about it. He told me it was from the Mumbai attacks.  I sat there staring at it for a very long time, thinking about the lesson, the fact that I randomly sat there and said aloud(to myself)" I get it".

I had many small reminders along the way. Like the day my ankle was swollen from walking for hours on end. I was annoyed by its  numbness and bulbous appearance. I looked out the window of my car and there was a man driving a scooter with a wooden peg for a leg. I stopped complaining. India taught me many lessons, all for which I am grateful.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dark and lovely

I stopped into a chemist in Chennai looking for deoderant and facial wash. Here is how that exchange went down.

Me:Where is your facial wash?

Clerk: I'll show you. I have a great one for you. This one is called Fair and lovely. It will give you a nice, clear, bright complexion.

Me: By brighter you mean?(I knew exactly what she meant)


Me:By clearer you mean?


Me: Naw...You got any dark and lovely?

*Blank stare*


Hello Loves!

I am back from the subcontinent. A new woman. A new decade in my life. India was exhilarating, infuriating, luxurious and squalid...I could go on with a slew of contradictory words to describe India—it wouldn't do it justice. If you have been reading my tweets, you know this trip was"a bit like a camel ride"(as one reader Ro aptly stated). Someone asked me what I thought of India, while I was still there. I don't like to give an opinion until I have left a place, have some distance from it and clarity of thought. I will give you a full synopsis of the trip with notes taken from my journal and I may even share a few pictures. Sri Lanka(I love you) will have its own special post(or my sister-in-law will shank me). It's 4am and I've unpacked and I'm counting my mozzie bites and staring at my tan lines. Goodbye for now.  I love you and namaste.