I have been to quite a few places over the last two weeks–the center of Sikhism, the sanctuary of exiled Tibetans, on the back of a camel in desert sand dunes–but I don’t know when I’ll feel up to writing the details. Sleeping on trains and oppressive heat and minimal internet access makes the internet, when available, feel like an opportunity I don’t know how to handle. I check my e-mail, check Google news, and I’m overwhelmed. But now, a short and recent update.
Today we came back to Delhi, via an overnight train from Jaisalmer. We spent the afternoon wandering, picking up a couple things that we needed, eating leisurely. We had some cold coffee to cool down, headed over to Planet M to get Matt’s friend a gift, and then over to the Center Park to rest in the shade of a tree. It was hard to find, this tree, as all those growing were small like bushes, not yet able to provide shade. It can be hard to find shade in this country, and I feel like that can function as a broad metaphor but I’m too drained to actually analyze it much further.
In the tiny patch of shade we found, hiaku were created. Last-Day-of-India haiku, for the three leaving, the three other than myself.
We left Center Park and went to a restaurant, the most expensive we’d all eaten at together, which served “blissful” Chinese food–their description, not mine. We ate well and talked about American television, which seems like such a strangely distant and inaccessible treat to me here. Comfort is a thing far away. The three discussed the merits of Boulder, and it made me miss America. Some days I really do. Miss it, that is. Chicago and lakeshore path and cycling and bitter snow and morning tea and coffee shops with friends and my bed, I miss little bits of my life back home and allow myself sometimes to think about it. By the end of today–by now–my sister and friends would be (are) gone. Gina goes home, the guys are bound for Turkey and then Europe. Every once in a while, on rare days, India feels all wrong and I sigh and deal with it.
Now comes the part, 6:15pm, when we leave the restaurant and wander toward the road to look for a rickshaw. We head up one street and I approach an empty auto and the apparent driver who is sitting nearby, staring dejectedly at the ground in front of him. “Is this your auto?” I ask in Hindi, but he just looks up with heavy eyes and motions us away. Gina mentions that she’s seen a lot of poor people, but she’s never seen someone looking so depressed in India.
Now the part when we mill out to the street and finally do find an auto, I bargain down a price, and we’re all four squeezed in and headed back to the hotel. And we hear a couple of explosions nearby and I tell everyone it’s probably fireworks, Indians are always setting off fireworks for any reason.
And then the part when we get back to the hotel, turn on the television, and see that four bombs have exploded in Delhi, and the number of dead begins to grow, and familiar places a mile away are on the screen, covered in blood, and it’s at Block M, where we bought a couple albums not 3 hours before, and Center Park, where we made up Indian haiku in the shade less than 2 hours before. And those people milling around us all day, getting new shoes or trying to get rupees for missing fingers or meeting friends, whichever of those people chose to follow our path a few hours later than us.. saw broken glass and blood and screaming.
And what I keep thinking about is the man on the curb, staring at the ground. I don’t know why, but I keep thinking about him.
And now, up to date, is the part where I’m at the hotel, and people are clean, and I just feel. Strange.