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Knights Off The Grid

INDIA: I'll Never Do It Again

USA | Thursday, 31 March 2011 | Views [5202]

Hey guys, a pink goat!  

Sadly, after a couple of weeks here sights like this barely even register.  This was probably the fifth pink goat we'd seen that morning so he was completely justified by looking at me like I'm pretty strange - or the paparazzi - for photographing him.  

The India anagram above was heard several times during our planning for the trip and  I couldn't disagree any more.  This country is a paradise:  a honking, stinking, silent, beautiful, hot, cold, unforgiving and loving world unto itself.  I may never leave. 

Mumbai Times, October 5, 2009:

     A baby, born in a train toilet, slipped through the filthy discharge chute onto the        tracks. The distraught mother flung herself from the speeding train in complete            darkness to rescue her baby. They were both found a few minutes later, shaken but          alive. 

That’s not even the most amazing aspect of the story.  What's really incredible is that this exact same sequence of events happened 18 months ago!  See below:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Newborn-falls-off-train-survives/articleshow/5099602.cms

Chris Knight Times, October 18, 2009: 

Emily Knight leaves her beloved iPhone in our room at the Lake Ghat Palace in a town called Udaipur and heads for Jaipur which is about 350km away.  In route, she realizes the error and makes a phone call to Napis, Lake Ghat’s owner.  Within minutes, Napis gives the phone to a runner who gives it to a tout who then gives it to another guesthouse owner who gives it to an Australian tourist who gives it to a taxi driver who gives it to a bus driver who then carries it to Jaipur and hands it to another rickshaw driver who delivers it safely to Emily.  The final rickshaw driver then tries to refuse payment for the effort.  This happens in a 24-hour time period.  Granted, our story lacks filthy discharge and a child, but if Emily lost her iPhone in the same manner she wouldn't hesitate to fling herself out of that speeding train in complete darkness to retrieve it.  

(As a Blackberry person, I have no concept of this level of devotion).   

This country is about contradictions.  The ‘Emily Story’ contradicts a lot of what we’d heard about India before we arrived.  The ‘Baby In The Toilet Story’ confirms most of it.  2 weeks into the trip and we've both decided India is one of the truly great places on earth.  It's impossible to explain, but it's both disgusting and beautiful simultaneously.  It's disgustingly beautiful. 

Sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?  Here's some more: this place is repulsively approachable, horrifically sublime, chaotic simplicity.  

Despite our better judgement, when these street kids come up we immediately drop our backpacks, throw our arms out and say things like, "Hey there little fella', you look like you need a hug!  How about we head around the corner and grab you a Happy Meal?  Wow, that's quite a cut on your shin there...it looks kinda infected.  What do you say we make our way back to the guesthouse for a good ol', much needed bath!  Man, I sure hope that skin rash isn't contagious.  I've got about 150 rupees on me...take it.  The ATM opens tomorrow at  7 and I'll get you some more." 

But here's the thing; you say all these things on the inside.  On the outside, you look straight ahead, completely ignore them, thank the lord for creating sunglasses, and pray the kid walks away before you break down and betray your emotions.  

It's brutally painful...and it repeats itself every day.  Talk about your contradictions.

Here's another one:

After we settled into our guesthouse in the heart of Agra, I wandered outside into the evening to find a rickshaw to take us on a tour around the city.  As we bumped along the backroads around the fort, I asked the driver what he thought about the famous Taj Majal.

"It leaks" was his response. 

We met up with Alexander Hunt in Jaipur and spent the next 9 days traveling around North Central India.  We hit a number of forts, a palace or two, Agra and the famous Taj Majal, and finally Varanasi, home of the burning ghats.  This site is the most popular Hindu cremation destination in the world, and they burn between 200-300 bodies a day on the edge of the Ganges.  Visitors are allowed to watch but photos are strictly forbidden.  We also happened to be there for the Shiva Festival which is a 2 day affair where tens of thousands of local women come down to the waters edge at sunset to dedicate offerings to Shiva, the Hindu Sun God.  They then take the offerings home and return at dawn for more dedications and religious formalities.  With every woman and man dressed in their traditional colorful hindu garb and with the with silent, brown Ganges providing the backdrop, it made for one of the most strikingly colorful scenes ever.  It looked like one of those Udaipur kids took a firecracker to a 64 box of Crayola crayons.

In about 10 minutes we start the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.  It’s a 20-day circuit hike around Annapurnas, one of the highest mountain ranges in the world.  We’ll be totally off the grid for 3 weeks. 

Wish us luck.

 

Tags: india, jaipur, taj mahal, udaipur

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