Monday, April 25, 2005

Tea for (Almost) Free

A pot-bellied chai wallah in Varanasi. He boiled the loose tea in a pot with milk, sugar, ginger and cardamon, then strained it into the tea pot on the left. One tea, served in the wee clay pots stacked upside down on the far left, cost Rs. 4. Posted by Hello

Horse Patrol

A random image from Jaipur, Rajasthan, of a horse standing in the middle of a strangely empty road. Posted by Hello

Seeing the Light

Another moment of grace: seeing New York City at sunset from Air India flight 101. Due to the wicked rash we all got in Anjuna, I had not been able to sleep before leaving Mumbai at 6:30am. After 20 hours of travel I was nearly home, and nearly dead from itching and exhaustion. I'd popped at least 15 pills of all shapes and color but was itching like a maniac, guzzling water to combat my dry finger tips, puffy red eyes and ghost like complexion. Posted by Hello

Colonial Clout

Inside Old Goa's Se Cathedral, a 17th century Portugese-built church that's one of the largest in Asia. On a mid April Goan aftenoon it truly was a godsend. In the cool darkness under the alter we sat, panting, chugging warm water and wiping away sweat. My rash was kicking in so I scratched, and scratched... Posted by Hello

Trouble in Paradise

What's left of Anjuna Beach, the famous party town in north Goa. The beach has been worn away by rough tides in recent months, and the sand blackened, according to locals, from an oil spill off the coast of nearby Calangute Beach. Posted by Hello

The view from my hut in Palolem Beach in South Goa.  Posted by Hello

Shiva Shimmies

On Elephanta Island, a one hour boat ride from Mumbai's landmark Gates of India, there are rock carvings of Lord Shiva in caves dating back from the 5th-8th century. If he still had legs you could see he's dancing in this sculpture. Posted by Hello

Godly Attire

Only in India do gods sell clothing. The guy in the middle is supposed to be like flute-playing, lady-loving Krishna, the blue skinned incarnation of Vishnu. Posted by Hello

The Mighty Mosque

Outside Haji Ali Mosque, which floats in the sea opposite Mahalakshmi racecourse. It's only accessible during low tide, when the water shrinks down around it to reveal trash and sewage strewn rocks. Posted by Hello

According to Subhra, my Mumbai mama, as women we were only allowed inside the mosque because the saint's followers are from a liberal sector of Islam. Resting under a silver frame supported by marble pillars, the tomb is hot and crowded with worshippers--women on one side, men on the other--straining to get near it. Posted by Hello

The 500 yard walk out to Haji Ali mosque during low tide is crowded with people--worshippers, Hindu tourists, and a ton of beggers, mostly maimed and/or crippled. Three ambutees lying together pumped their severed limbs up and down, chanting Allah, Allah, Allah... Posted by Hello

A ladies compartment on the local trains in Mumbai, one guaranteed "eve-teasing"-free zone. Luckily as a white woman I was mostly spared sexual harrasment young Indian women have to deal with daily on the city streets. They're a bit scared of me--I've heard it called the Memsahib effect.  Posted by Hello

Couples cuddle off Marine Drive in Mumbai. After North India, this was a shocking sight. Posted by Hello

From the my Mumbai family's east Wadala flat, you can see the Harbour Line train tracks and, below, the everpresent slum dwellings.  Posted by Hello

Unlike Hindu temples, Buddhist temples are covered in bright intricate paintings telling the stories of gods, saints and worshippers. I couldn't figure out what was going on in this one but the multi-armed goddess looks strangly like the Hindu deity Kali, in one of her destructive rampages. Posted by Hello

Ghoom Monastery is just a Rs. 10 shared jeep from Darjeeling. Posted by Hello

Darjeeling is composed of Nepali Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists, but it seems like they often mix and match Observatory hill is crowded with small shrines to an amalgum of deities. Around a central Hindu shrine to Shiva are murals like this one depicting guru Sai Baba, Jesus, and Buddha.  Posted by Hello

Darjeeling is nearly verticle. Posted by Hello

I beat a retreat up to Darjeeling after the intense Kolkata heat. The drive up in a shared jeep past a million tea planatations like this. It would have been lovely had the driver not been a maniac, taking 90 degree blind turns on the one lane, cliff hugging roads with no hesitation (just constant honking). Posted by Hello

The white marble Birla Mandir on Asutosh Chowdhury Avenue, a temple to Laxmi and Krishna, is immaculately clean because they don't let you bring rottable offerings like fresh flowers and food.  Posted by Hello

Pao Bhaji special chaat, a Bengali snack served from thoughtfully decorated stalls by the Hooghly River ghats. This is a spicy chick pea, potato and onion mixture with a small roll in a banana leaf bowl. It was tasty but didn't sit so well in my stomach. D'oh. Posted by Hello

Bengali posters at the famous Coffee House on college street.  Posted by Hello

In Kolkata, my friend's cousin took us to the most happening 'disc, Dublin, in the basement of the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake district. Here are Rhina's parents--by day an engineer and a banker--breaking it down till the breaka breaka dawn.  Posted by Hello

My Bengali family told me Rhina, the pigtailed pixie I'm preventing from climbing over the balcony here, learned a third English phrase after I left: "where is Rose?" I almost abducted her. Posted by Hello

In Kolkata on Holi, March 25, the bhanged mad hatter of the gang at the roof top party. Posted by Hello