I’ve always felt like a bit of a permanent tourist no matter where I am. The thing about not having a set home is that all places are exciting to me and I want to do the touristy things…even in Kathmandu I’m such a tourist because I still photograph things I see on the streets. But…being in India, even though most people THINK I’m India… I AM a tourist….camera out and ready.
The past few days I’ve got to do a few touristy things and today was more work. First, let me tell about being a tourist and why everything is a billion times more fun with good company. I’m going to catagorize this to make it easier:
I’ve never traveled and stayed in hostels before so this has been a new experience for me but one that I am loving every minute of. The best part about it sure isn’t sharing a room with strangers…..and a communal bathroom, but…meeting people and hearing about their lives and getting to know other people….SO.AMAZING.
Until the other day I didn’t realize just how much I have been missing on interesting individuals, intelligent conversations and just hanging out with good people. (Not to say these people don’t exist in Nepal…but so far,I only really have my friend 🙂 ). Anyways.
The people that I’ve come to really enjoy:
Bjorn and Leah – if you recall from an earlier post, I had mentioned a guy who could do every single accent possible, that would be Bjorn. He is HILARIOUS. Bjorn is smart, entertaining and just a great guy, having him around is a guaranteed laugh. His girlfriend Leah is from Switzerland, she’s far more quite than her entertainer of a boyfriend but she is a person who is a sweetheart to the core. Buttmunch and I LOVE hanging out with them. My favorite thing about Bjorn?….he told us what his mother used to say to him when he was little (and I quote) “darling, you’re such poof bait, they’re totally going to rip your little ass apart”. Cool parents = mega cool kids.
Lissa – a young wife and mother (she’s my age) has traveled to so many places and is in India for ten weeks to spend some time for herself which I think is rather wise. She is beautiful, adorable and LOVES BUGS. It’s awesome to see a girl say “OMG….I just saw the most BEAUTIFUL cockroach!”.
Antonio – a 44 year old Brazilian who BIKED to Delhi from Nepal is out and about traveling. He has a 9 year old daughter and when he talks about her, you can literally see his eyes soften and his voice weighed with love. It’s beautiful. I find Antonio to be a beautiful person (and I mean that in more than just the fact that he is so incredibly photogenic!). Antonio’s manner of speech, the stories he shares, the way he goes with the flow and the questions he asks such as “what are you thankful for today” are inspiring, humbling and just a wonder to have around.
Farhad and Angela – sadly they’ve already left… but Farhad and Angela were such a down to earth adorable couple.
Stephanie – oh man. she was one fun girl…she’s also no longer at the hostel but she’s the one who was the head chef at the first BBQ we had and she’s the one who had a voice that made my heart swell.
Point being: this has been such a lovely reminder of how the world is filled with wonderful people. Some of them are here working, doing internships…others are just traveling…(we even have a guy who’s been on a spiritual journey for the last year…and…NO JOKE…believes that the root of the world’s problems lies in the “bad aliens” who feed off the “negative energy” that exist through wars and genocide…one of his top arguments for evident of aliens….the number of movies Hollywood has on aliens…esp. MEN IN BLACK!). Point being: most of these people have made me remember how PLEASANT the world can be, it makes me appreciate human connection and it just makes me feel SO blessed.
Day before yesterday we decided to be tourists and go do touristy things. There were five of us (Bjorn, Leah, Antonio, Buttmunch and I) who all piled into ONE little tuk tuk and sped our happy bums to Hymayun’s Tomb. I wish I could give you history on this…but I was distracted by beauty and amazing company. The day we went out also ended up being Antonio’s birthday (44th!) and it was such a pleasure to be able to spend it with him.
The tomb was pretty cool…and had great potential to be boring if I wasn’t with a group of people that made me laugh THE WHOLE TIME!!! We were walking around and although we were the tourists, it seems we were also the attraction for some people who were not concerned with taking pictures of the tomb and architecture….but instead made us the subject of their photos. Mobile phones, cameras and any other recording devices were pulled out and used on us. Some of them were also interested enough by us to intrude on OUR photo shoots to tell us how we do it right. No joke…one fellow came over and showed Buttmunch and Antonio how to pose. I can’t tell you how many times we have used the phase “only in India”.
When we got home in the evening, we set about making food (I actually had no involvement in this!) and dinner ended up being lovely. We got a few sweets to celebrate Antonio’s life and he made a short but wonderful speech. He said that he’s always spent his birthday with his family and that this was the first year he spent it away from Brazil. He said he had expected the day to be uneventful and he hadn’t planned on going out, but he joined us and it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience (for all of us!!) and then he said that although we may never see each other again, for his birthday…we were his family. When he said that, I felt like I was a part of the best of human connection. The GOOD part of us that connects to other humans, the part that when we have no homes and no families…but we have each other (and we are essentially strangers) what we have with each other…it is more than enough.
Red Fort/India Gate
Yesterday, Antonio, Lissa and I decided to continue being tourists by visiting the famed Red Fort. The three of us hopped into an auto rickshaw and finally arrived at the Red Fort…only to realize that all museums, monuments and places of interest are closed on Mondays. Us being the happy sports that we are took a few pictures from the outside (might as well right?)…we tried to ride the Delhi Metro…only to have the metro tunnel lead us to a few policemen (?) but no trains…and seeing as it was too hot to walk, we decided to go for food. We get to Cannought place (not sure how it’s spelled..but it’s pronounced totally differently…like Wooster). The three of us tried to find a place to indulge in more Indian food…but after walking around and taking turns and crossing streets we decided to eat wherever…which ended up being Pizza Hut. Not exactly the “experience India” dining we were hoping….but enjoyable none the less.
After the failed trip to the Red Fort, we figured we’d go to the India Gate. There wasn’t too much to do…look at the gate..photograph (and be photographed) but being with good people…totally enjoyable.
Work and the world
Today Buttmunch and I had ourselves another interview. She asks and talks, I type and listen and try to learn. I can’t gives specific names and detailed information….but sitting at the interview today trying to get down every word our guest was saying, there were two moments where if I had been alone I might have cried.
Once was to cry over how sad the state of the world is. People are getting sick and dying because they don’t have access to clean water. Just having water isn’t enough…because although having access to water means people survive but having water going out that is contaminated with chemicals or bacteria means people live a life of sickness and sometimes they are victims to irreversible damage. Hearing some statistics on contamination levels in certain areas just sent chills through my spine. So.many.people.at.risk.
The second reason I felt emotional : to hear about all that is good in humans. There is one village in particular where a certain “chief” has taken over and turned things around. They’ve claimed their right to clean water, they’ve taken initiative, they’ve taken responsibility and control and have even been able to increase the daily wages of the villagers. I wish someone would make a movie modeled on this village, something that would make for a great story while spreading awareness of the issue of clean water.
This project truth be told, is beyond me. It’s not my project, I have minimal knowledge but being able to be a part of something, even in the smallest way, it’s thrilling.
Tactic to stop men from staring
Here’s a fun story. The men in India STARE. They don’t glace, they don’t notice, they bore their eyes into you and if you look straight back at them it does not discourage them from continuing to look at you as though you were an alien. Today, Buttmunch and I did the impossible…after billions of women and tourists have failed to find a successful method of causing men to lose interest in us, we have a tactic that has proven to be highly effective. I give you permission to tell friends and family about this should they find themselves in an autorickshaw and stared at.
When a man stares at us, we not so subtly pretend to stick our fingers up our nose, and sometimes we do this while looking straight back at them. It is ASTONISHING how quickly they lose interest. Finger up a nose and it’s like we instantaneously turn into just another person in India and no longer are a novelty item.
I don’t have a story here really. Buttmunch and I came home and we saw something run across the lawn, around us and slip away under the gate. We saw a mongoose. It was there long enough for us to stare, not long enough for us to photograph but we got a pretty good look at the thing. Looks a lot like a ferret.
It was awesome.
Okay. It’s hot inside and I’ve been typing this outside and have turned into a hot spot for all the night mosquitoes…so…I shall leave you with this post and bid thee farewell until the next post. ( I’m still working on typing up our adventure from our first day).