Sunday, March 6, 2011

Life on the Edge in India

Damn, sometimes I'm just not as organized as I'd like.  I wrote brilliant blog posts last night (one about my adventures at a Kochi cooking class), which were brilliant, pithy and insightful ... but which you'll have to wait to read until I actually remember to copy them to my USB drive to I can upload them at an internet cafe.

Instead (since I'm trying to be disciplined about this writing thing and do some every day), I offer a random selection of life-in-India moments -- some of these you may have caught already on Twitter, if you follow me there.

India's a crazy, chaotic, colourful world -- completely surreal in many ways, larger than life and over the top and sure to inspire either total devotion or utter hatred.  There's no being indifferent to this place!

Some thoughts, if you want to try living on the edge here ...
  1. Ride on the back of a Royal Enfield motorcycle that a crazy Italian is driving.  In Jaipur traffic.
  2. Take a local bus for 8 hours, on the worst road, ever.
  3. Drink bottled water without checking that the bottle was actually sealed before you opened it.
  4. Have a trippy camel ride back to Pushkar in the dark, after consuming at least 3 (very strong) Indian rum and cokes around the campfire.  Sing random Joni Mitchell songs on the way.
  5. Shout back at the screen at a Bollywood movie along with everyone else, even though you have no idea what the characters are actually saying.
  6. Get your Bollywood on at a nightclub in Jaipur, forcing the DJ to keep playing the music even though he keeps wanting to switch to hip-hop.
  7. Stand your ground on the street and expecting the cow to go around YOU for a change.
  8. Pile six people (and assorted backpacks) in the back of a diesel-fuelled auto-rickshaw.  Hope it doesn’t tip over. 
  9. Go to a “sheesha” bar for a hookah.  Make it an apple-flavoured one. 
  10. Enter a souvenir shop in Pushkar just to get the cold beer (which is theoretically illegal there). 
  11. Say “oh, that smells good” and trying some street food in Udaipur.  (And living to tell the tale.) 
  12. Repeat phrases in Hindi that you learned from a guide, trusting they actually mean what he says.  (Startled looks suggest they don’t.  What did I say?) 
  13. Don't watch where your feet are going on the street (the downside:  stepping in a huge steaming pile of camel dung. While wearing sandals.) 
  14. Ride a bicycle around Udaipur and out to the countryside, dodging auto-rickshaws, motorbikes and livestock as you go. Learn AFTER you get to the top of the hill (when you're too tired to run) that there are leopards in them there woods.
  15. Smoke (never mind what) on the hotel’s roof terrace while breaking out the Bollywood dance moves and refusing to act your age.
  16. Stagger home from a Baga nightclub at 4 a.m., having lost count of Kingfisher consumption, and get up the next day to hit the Goa beach just after sunrise.
  17. Attempt to sing along to songs in Malayalam while floating down the Keralan backwaters in a tippy canoe.
  18. Listen to guide's casual, offhand advice about what to do if charged by wild elephants in a wildlife reserve in the Western Ghats.  Having it immediately flee from your mind when wild elephants actually spotted.
  19. Battle with killer mosquitoes in a bamboo hut in Varkala.  Learn to sleep despite the incessant chirping of geckos, because geckos are good:  they eat mosquitoes.
  20. Work your way through the various forms of chocolate cake on offer in Kochi cafes.  Dodging the random street goats as you attempt to stagger back to your hotel in the midday heat.

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