Sites, Sounds, Smells

“It had happened so recently that the sensations seemed still to be present, unprocessed, in her mind – they had not yet been absorbed as memory.” ~ Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide.

Most of my journeys to all of the places I have traveled could be framed in this statement. As I move from place to place, I feel like I am trying to absorb everything. To fill every nook and cranny of my mind with all of the sites, sounds, smells, tastes – everything that makes each moment jump into existence. India is filled with such things. Before I even open my eyes, my nostrils have been filled with the smell of oil sizzling with onions, cumin, tumeric, spices that I can’t even name… My ears are flooded with the sounds of autos (rickshaws) puttering in the distance, calls of all the different wallahs selling their goods, tinkering bicycle bells, rickety wheels bouncing past, and music. lots and lots of music. My body responds and I start to dance – as the day begins…

The return to Delhi was bittersweet. I was soooo happy to return to my aunt and uncle’s place and see my family again but the thought that I would only be here for a few more days hit so hard. I was reminded of the real reason why I don’t plan trips to India, I am always so afraid of the heart wrenching goodbye. BUT! Life lesson #1: Live and love each moment! I started laughing in the taxi ride because yet again I was faced with the need to learn Hindi – the taxi driver decided that he didn’t speak English and I needed to learn how to say “other side of this highway” pretty quickly (before I got dropped off in the middle of a dusty street with my luggage). Luckily, I made it back to the house and was welcomed by a new speaker system. My uncle got a bose surround sound system so bollywood music was THUMPING in the house. It’s been a fun couple of days – testing out the speakers.

I fell asleep pretty quickly for a good portion of the day (I hadn’t slept much on my last night in Kolkata!!) and woke up late in the afternoon to hang out with my dear sweet cousin – Rachel. In India, first cousins are referred to as sisters, and she truly is my sister. So many similarities – and so much love. We walked down to the tailor (through the craziest intersection where people go the wrong way on one side of the road to avoid making a u-turn – I mean, really?) and I picked up all of the beautiful clothes that had been made for me! Wow is all I can say to that. I’m still not over the idea of dropping off the fabric and returning for custom made kurtis – Amazing. We had a secret snack at a nearby shop and returned to the house. (Here are the things from this short excursion that I am trying to commit to memory – the low hanging electrical wires we walked through as we were leaving the ‘society’ [group of apts], the cow on the side of the road munching away on scraps from a wheelbarrow, the darkness of the streets we walked through, the chill of delhi night air… and this was maybe one or two hours!?)

Yesterday, I met up with friends from New York – Christina and Vlad and Christina’s parents. We had lunch together and went to go see Humayun’s Tomb!! It was a beautiful site. Like a mini-taj mahal, right in Delhi!

Since leaving Kolkata, I have been totally engrossed in this book, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh. I am reminded of how much I love Indian authors and a good novel. I feel like I have finally quieted my mind enough to relax, breathe, read and enjoy the world around  me.

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