Monday, June 22, 2009

Part II

Meenu, my neighbor. We would practice Hindi and English with each other. Right now she's reading The Little Prince, one of my favorite stories.

Reena, her elder sister. Reena's husband is in Germany cooking in an Indian restaurant. Reena cooks wonderful bindi and dal rajma, and is always giving me chai and cookies. Overall, Indian neighbors are extremely friendly.

While the men protest, the women wait.

Or they make a female-only pooja service.

Uncha Vala in his iconic pose, with my neighbors onlooking.
PS: Vicki arrived Saturday night; it's Monday afternoon now. We've done a lot already, and Vicki loves it. She went back to the hotel to sleep - the jetlag hits us all about 3pm. And it's quite hot, 107' and sunny. But we have still done so much - today we went to the Mecca Masjid and rode the subway to Delhi University, in the neighborhood of where my apartment will be. Yesterday we went to the Kalkaji Mandir, and to a Sikh Guruwara, and saw the Ba'hai Lotus Mandir, and walked around Pahar Ganj. We're having fun - can't wait to go to the mountains tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Water Protests, and an Update on the State of My Affairs in Delhi, in Which I Recall Many Prosaic Facts

Unfortunately, there were more pictures and a more detailed write-up, but it's trapped on my misfiring laptop. I'll have to post just these five pictures. Right now it's 5:00pm. I'm in Delhi. I arrived this morning. I visited the branch of Delhi University that I'll be affiliated with, the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, and then I went apartment hunting. I found one, not good by any means, but acceptable. I'll probably rent it, just because it's exhausting and unproductive to waste time looking - and anyway, with Vicki coming and us going to Ladakh, there won't be any time.

Today was a first. I rode on the expanding Metro, Delhi's subway. It runs from the train station Vicki and I are staying nearby. It's almost fantastical to see a subway in Delhi. Soon it will connect all the way to the airport, but for now it's pretty local. It's nice; it could be a subway anywhere in the world. If I take this apartment, I'll be riding it to school.

Here are some pictures from a hartal, or protest, that happened outside my apartment in Mussoorie. There's not been water for about a week. There were only private grumblings until the water-workers went on strike for higher pay. Then the hartals broke out. Some people were protesting the lack of water; other people were protesting the pay increase. This strike coincided perfectly with the street-sweepers' strike. A few minutes away from my apartment is a Mount Kalash of trash sitting in the road. Each night the dogs will make a pilgrimage there and see if Shiva's in a generous mood.

Slogan yelling.

The problem's the water. It may look like delicious apple cider, but I assure you it's not. It's the dregs of dry water taps.

Atticus Finch speaking reason to the mob.

Two men in peaceful disagreement.

The scene of crisis. For contrast, I also had pictures of the women, who were mostly absent from the street protests. You could find them down the road, lined up in a queue at a government water truck with hundreds of water containers. Two buckets per woman.

Well, keep checking the blog. Adrienne will be posting. I'll be traveling with my sister in the remote regions of Zanskar and Ladakh for the next month. As I write this, I am monitoring Vicki's location on the airline website. She's currently over Pakistan, looks like Waziristan. I hear it's a beautiful place. Maybe we'll go there instead.

A joke. We'll be safe.

I'm excited to see Vicki, but if I'm being honest with myself, I'm equally excited to see (and eat) the mint brownies that she baked at 5:00 on the morning of her flight. Back in Delhi, it's so hot, you lost your appetite. But this afternoon I ate the most delicious tandoori naan ever made.

I'll leave you with a quote from when you exit the subway car: Mind the gap! Ponder its deep meaning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nothing in Particular, Written in Haste

Chang O and I at the local aquarium.

There's not been water lately. A political matter. In this picture, a gaggle of men have blocked the main intersection and are debating how best to get water.

A local graveyard, full of the ghosts of British imperialism.

Jasvinder Singh, my go-to shopkeep.

After my classes I spend the afternoons with my neighbors. They are gravalis, tribal locals from Uttarakhand. They are wonderful neighbors, and bring me yummy ladhus.

A little neighbor that I've named "Swatantrata Senani" - Freedom Fighter. He likes to destroy half-finished chess games that I'm playing with my 15-year-old neighbor.

Uncha Vala comes to my apartment at 2pm and sleeps until 8pm when I kick him out.

Theresa left yesterday for her Indian wedding. Her cards were mixed.

A porter carrying a fridge through the bazaar.

Traditional dress.

The local library - empty.