Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Holy India!

I've just arrived in Delhi after a long journey - including a three hour car trip, a three hour flight, a taxi ride from the airport to the back packer strip, and a walk on foot to the hotel - from Darjeeling. I'm weary, achy, hot, tired, and slightly overwhelmed to be back in India proper after the calm of the mountains. Oh India, you are nothing if not intense.

This time around I was less fazed by the tent cities and countless numbers of people milling about, driving, and cycling through the narrow streets. However, my head did whip around when I realized the large shape passing to the left of the cab was a giant black cow. A huge cow walking right next to the taxi in the middle of what is basically Delhi's version of Bangkok's Kao Sang Road! Right next to street vendors making snacks and peddling all manner of bejeweled bags, belly dancing belts, and sparkling saris. And just behind that cow was another cow! Incredible. Needless to say, the streets - at least in the back packer strip - smell strongly of manure. I'm picking my steps carefully.

The hotel is decent though not charming (I also found a little 'friend' of the roach variety in my shower). India is quite a wake up call in comparison to the traveling I've done around Southeast Asia. In SE Asia there are charming guest houses galore. In India you have basically two options, super basic and if you're lucky clean rooms lacking any semblance of character, going for about $5 to $10, OR super luxurious rooms in 5 star hotels that will run you $150 at a minimum. On the plane ride today I was sorely tempted by the idea of checking into the Hyatt. Sauna, gym, clean sheets, a bed as soft and fluffy as a cloud, and water so hot it would steam up the shower and all of my pores. Ah, bliss.

But, not ready to wuss out just yet, and wanting to travel to Agra and the Taj Mahal tomorrow morning (something more easily done from the back packer area than the Hyatt), I decided to rough it amongst my fellow back packers at least for tonight and probably for tomorrow. I still have a little more than 2 weeks in India and I decided to save my nights of luxury for the end of the trip. I've been thinking that I've got to make sure that I relax on this second leg of the journey. Traveling is exciting and exhilarating, but it's also tiring, and as the days get nearer to the day when I've got to start working again I find myself thinking that I need to make sure that I prepare myself. I need to get back into that place that I was after coming home from Mexico. So zen, calm, peaceful, and healthy feeling. To accomplish that I'm thinking possibly a brief stay in an ashram, some yoga somewhere, and a rejuvenating hotel stay to cap of my trip. Complete with a massage somewhere along the way...

For now though I'm going to try to stop planning and get back to absorbing the NOW. Not hard here in Delhi because it basically smacks you in the face and forces you to Be Present. I'm back to that litany in my head saying, "You can do this, you can do this," as I'm walking down the street dodging the piles of rubble and garbage, ignoring the calls of the vendors and annoying drivers, and trying to keep my face composed - exerting an air of, if not belonging, at least laid back confidence.

Cross your fingers that my excursion to Agra and the Taj Mahal works out tomorrow!


Sparky Duck said...

Im Kinda jealous. Can you move the Taj to some place without diptheria?

get pictures!

Willow said...

I love reading about your travels, especially because I know it is some place I will never go myself. You write so beautifully, it's as if we are all there with you! I look forward to every entry. Are you sure you aren't supposed to be a travel writer? Maybe that really is your calling. Have fun visiting the Taj Mahal! I can't wait to hear about it!

Starshine said...

Hang in there, Buttercup! Can't wait to hear all about the Taj Mahal!

Anonymous said...

Saving the luxury until the end sounds smart to me. Can't wait to read about your impressions of the Taj Mahal.