Howdy howdy!! It’s less than 3 hours to my birthday and I am showered and clean and chillin in the room and Ray’s gone out to do something for bday preparations (yay!) and I am in a very good mood cuz I had a busy and long but a great day with my boy!
We did the 9.5-hour “tour” with the taxi the hotel guy arranged for us, and although for most of it we felt like we were doing more the obligatory, compulsory viewing of Delhi since neither of us were terribly inclined to “see” Delhi but knew we should, I am glad we went. We had a lovely day together, and got some great pics and had some nice moments. And that’s what it’s all about, right! This was like the 3rd stand-out NICE day, just everything pretty much perfect.
The best moments of today were definitely seeing where Gandhi was shot (though that was a bummer), going to the Hard Rock Café and seeing the mall, and taking pictures at Humayun’s tomb, which was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The Gandhi Smriti, where he was shot, was sad; I thought you could really feel the power of that spot, and they’ve preserved it and honored him really well there, almost eerily showing his footsteps (with concrete ones) from his room, down the path into the garden, and stopping abruptly at the spot where he was shot, where the footsteps lead up a few steps to a small memorial monument.
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After that, the tomb was pretty and we got some great lighting and started playing with the black and white taking pictures of each other, and that was fun. The Lotus temple was really neat, too.
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We also saw the beautiful (too bad we couldn’t take pictures inside of all the cool painted marble statues) Birla Mandir temple, the gigantic Red Fort, the Raj Ghat where Gandhi was cremated, the India Gate and Parliament Houses, and a couple of obligatory “emporium” shops which we didn’t really have a say in.
THE craziest thing today though was probably, believe it or not, I know this is kind of ridiculous considering the other things we did and saw, but the craziest thing was actually the mall. Ray had wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café to get one of his coworkers/our sponsors a souvenir for his collection and it was apparently located inside this shopping mall. Even from the outside, it was like the Tucson mall. It didn’t look like it or anything but it just…felt like it. And inside, oh my god, it was such a complete mind-warp. We could have been in America. We could have just walked into Arrowhead Mall, in Peoria, Arizona. It was so wonderful, and yet so awful, to be so close and yet so far. And it was just all the moreso when we went into the Hard Rock, which was in the mall next to the cinema (also, from the outside at least, just like home with huge movie cardboards and everything). We could have been sitting in Red Robin at the Tucson mall, and outside would be Dave, and Melissa and Toby, and home, and Coby and Biscuit and Smokey and the big screen tv and video games and beer and bbqs and internet and even – dare I say it – work, and our cars and McDonald’s and the gym and Tucson and The Loft and – get the point?
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And everything was right inside, there was cleanliness (spotless), there were wide-open spacious stores with good lighting and air conditioning, selling silly items for way too much money, there were electronics stores and punk stores and a small candy shop like Sweet Factory (more like a stand) and kiosks and useless decorations and a coffee bar where people had enough money to sit and drink probably overpriced coffee and just while the day away and a food court, with McDonald’s and Subway and Domino’s and fare from other places – Chinese food, Indian, etc. Everything was right, normal, comfortable – and yet….we knew that right outside, it wasn’t right at all. Nothing was normal, comfortable, nothing was right in terms of what we know and are used to, accustomed to, even blind to back home because it’s just…natural. Inside, we didn’t even have to think, we knew what to do, how to look, we could just be normal. But back outside, everything new, different, shocking. Even almost 3 months into this, it will always be that, because it will never be home. We will make it almost thus – we are so much more comfortable here than when we first arrived of course (and I can say that for sure, having gone to the Delhi train station now at NIGHT and getting a ticket with absolutely NO muss, no fuss). But it will always be mind-blowing to us, it will always be India. As it should be!
It was really nice to have the reprieve in there, the return to normalcy for just a meal period. We had big drinks (though not free refills – that would have really made things crazy) with ice that we could drink, nachos that tasted RIGHT (mostly), with jalapenos and sour cream and salsa and chips that were right and CHEDDAR cheese, and good service and clean bathrooms – with TOILET PAPER – that I don’t have to take my pants all the way off to attempt to use and squat over it while holding my nose and trying not to step in sludge.
But while it was nice, like I said…it just…it wasn’t right. It was too weird, it was too much of a mind twister. It was seriously just disturbing. I don’t like feeling homesick; I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I have here and I’m loving it, love the chance to do it, love the timeframe that we’re doing it for, and how we’re doing it. To think that we could just walk into some time warp and step back outside and see Dave, or go to the gym, go to play hockey, play with our pets, have fun wasting time on our video games, go pick up some beers and sit on the porch….and to know it’s not true, it’s just too weird. It was just like being in a dream, and a nice dream, but at the same time…we want to be HERE! India! Crazy, confusing, chaotic, amazing India!
So for as nice as it all was for “reality” to be suspended outside for a meal period…it was almost a relief to step back out into real life, and back into the hot, non-air-conditioned, challenging, exciting, curious, fascinating madness. Because somewhere between here and there, that madness has come to make sense to us.
Interesting thing, travel.
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Go on a tour through Delhi with us in the album!