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January 07, 2005


Greetings from India! I'm doing pretty well considering I pretty much didn't want to get on the plane the other day. I was feeling unexcited about the rest of my trip, reluctant to leave friends and family behind again, and feeling like I was just going through the motions because I had a plane ticket. I trusted that I would feel much better once I got here, and so far it's going okay.

I've spent the last few days getting acclimated in Mumbai. Things didn't turn out here quite the way I expected, as the friends who were supposed to meet me here changed their plans, and I ended up starting my time in India on my own, exactly what I was trying to avoid. But it's all gone smashingly so far, and I don't know what I was so worried about. I actually like Mumbai (formerly Bombay) quite a bit, and wish I had more time to explore. It's definitely loud, crowded, hot, and dirty, but so far India hasn't seemed as intense and overwhelming as I expected, so I'm still bracing myself, waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.

The car (and motorbike, truck, auto-rickshaw...) horns are especially what makes it loud here--everyone's honking, constantly. It's so pervasive that it actually starts to blend into the background sometimes and I stop noticing it! During the cab ride into town, right in the midst of a particularly horn-heavy intersection, I saw a "no honking" sign--a picture of a horn with a red slash through it. I wondered who thought that there was any hope such a sign would be obeyed, since I suspect they've been honking here since the horn was invented! It's also insanely polluted here. The smog is so thick that buildings just a half-mile away are hazy outlines.

Yesterday I took a boat out to Elephanta Island, where there are caves containing amazing rock carvings dedicated to the god Shiva. On the boat, I reminisced about the last boat ride I took, around the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia--I've come such a long way! Anyway, they don't know who made the carvings, but it's estimated they were carved around 750 AD, and the Portuguese found them in the 1500s--then used some of them for target practice, breaking off large parts of the carvings. Sounds just like the Spanish in South America, with no regard for the treasures they uncovered. It's really sad to see what explorers and colonialists have done to the cultures they've encountered.

On the island I met a couple from Canada who's teaching English in Japan. They are finishing up three weeks in Southern India, and it was great to talk with them about their experiences here. We went to see the ghats where 10,000 men and women do laundry for people all over the city, never losing anything, and getting the right things back to the right people by that same afternoon. Pretty amazing. We also went to the Hanging Garden, a beautiful, peaceful haven; and Chowpatty Beach, where we ate belpuri on the beach as the sun set. I'm not sure what belpuri contains, exactly, but it had lots of interesting things in it--some were kind of puffy and crispy like Rice Krispies, and it was spicey and good and the quintessential Mumbai snack. I've had lots of other great food, too, which I'll write more about later.

I'm flying to Delhi tonight, then hoping to get on a bus to Jaipur, in Rajasthan, tomorrow morning to meet up with my friends. Sorry to cut this short, I have to go check out of my hotel...

Posted by Amy on January 7, 2005 10:16 PM
Category: India

It's good to see you back on the road again. I have been catching up on your chronicles and am amazed with your adventures. I hope this part of your trip turns out as memorable for you.
Aunt Lois

Posted by: Aunt Lois on January 9, 2005 11:19 PM

I FINALLY bought a ticket to India. I'm planning to see family in Punjab and also visit Rajasthan in March. Tell me all about it when you're done seeing it. Have fun!

Posted by: Nadia on January 10, 2005 04:00 PM

Hi Amy,
Sunset photographs are wonderful. I hope you have reached Jaipur safely and must be planning to move on from there. I wish you all the best. keep in touch and take care.

Posted by: anshul arora on January 10, 2005 04:22 PM

woo woo! you made it! so are you planning a trip to the fortress at Jaislemer?

Posted by: missmobtown on January 11, 2005 07:25 PM
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