Tuesday, July 5, 2011


My Ember in India Blog is acting up on me...so I'm back to blogger till I figure it out.

I wish you could see what I see. I’m on a 4 hour road trip on a bus to Agra. I want to sleep but I can’t peel myself away from the window. India is so intriguing to me. Our one way freeway is littered with motorcycles, bikes, diesel trucks, horses, cows, dogs, tractors, vans, carts and pedestrians. It’s madness, to say the least. One way doesn’t mean one way. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything here. Cars drive both ways with one hand on the horn beeping the whole way. I think the horn replaced the blinker. I’ve studied the driving patterns and I have noticed all cars have “Sound Horn” painted on the back of the vehicle. Any car trip I have made hasn’t been complete without bouncing my way along the pot hole streets to the screeching horns the entire way. The roads to and from villages are terrible (and that’s an understatement)! But back to the horn...it doesn’t mean; “Watch out your going to get killed!” like it does most the time in the US. Instead it means I’m going to pass you, or “I see you walking down the street” or “I’m going to move closer to the edge” so, in other words the horn means everything and nothing! Cars weave in and out -drive all over the road and stop where they want. There are no rules to driving here, except that you need to be gutsy. Ramish, our tour guide said this about driving in India,
” Driving is 25% pedal, 25% horn and 50% luck.” He doesn’t drive if he can help it. It’s too crazy, he says.
Yesterday I 20 people cram into one vehicle! It was like something you would see in the Circus! Come to think of it-I think I have seen something like that in the Circus with clowns! The cars here a tiny compact cars too!

As we drive through what appears to be “Nowhere” men, women, and children are parading down the street. I can’t tell where they are going or where they have been. Nothing is around us. But the streets are buzzing.
Randomly we hit a busy spot and suddenly we are in the middle of a sad looking farmers market. Carts of fruit, drinks, clothes, bananas, and a variety of undefinable things are being sold in the mud covered streets with trash strewn about like dirt. Woman walk about adorned in beautiful Sari’s, carrying a child in their arms or a package on their head. They look stunning and it doesn’t make sense to me that they walk through filth like it’s not there.

Horns are bleating in every direction causing me to look here and there. I can’t keep up with the moment. I want to freeze time and analyze what I’m looking at. Consider life from their perspective but in an instant it’s all gone and I’m faced with new scenes and new questions before I’ve resolved any of the old ones.
Each Market is like a Where’s Waldo page. If you could sit and stare for more than a few seconds I’m sure I would see some amazing things.
One thing I could do without is the men relieving themselves in the street! I can’t endure a car trip without seeing this at least 5 times a day!

I feel as though I have been time warped. Old men sit atop wagons being pulled by ox, horse or even camel. Animals and carts travel alongside our bleating vehicles and over loaded cars. I’ve seen diesel trucks ,covered with tarps, with a community of people riding on top as if its a free ride. I can’t help but wonder if the driver is aware of the population on board.
In the fields I see stick huts here and there and then men squatting, like my kids do when watching ants in the sand. What are they doing?.

These little villages we pass through appear unannounced. Suddenly there are more cows, more trash and more people. I can’t figure out where they all came from. It’s as if they just appeared. The few buildings that are in the area look like they were bombed and only half the structure is left. A closer look reveals a family has set up a home inside. No windows, doors, or front steps. Just a big hole in a wall to enter and a roof to provide shelter or shade.
Motorcycles are the choice of transportation. Men in their buttoned shirts (almost always long sleeved) cruise around like harry potter on his stick.(what is it called? )
It’s not uncommon to see 3 men on one bike. Women side saddle behind their husbands covering their heads with their beautiful silk scarf while cradling their little babies in their bosom sleeping peacefully through the chaos.

Old me sit. That’s all I can tell they are doing. They sit alone with a wrap on their head and do nothing.

I like watching the cars as we go. Each one that passes has several faces I can stare at, and they stare right back! They love seeing American White people. If I wave their faces light up and they nudge their neighbor to look my way too.
Kids are quick to send a wave and the women are slow to make eye contact but once they do a loving smile emerges.
Trailers being pulled behind trucks are filled with people. It reminds me of hay rides in the Fall.

I often see men sprawled out on the ground dead asleep face down in the dirt, oblivious to the present moment of “LIFE” around them. At first I thought they were bums like we would see in NYC but I’ve realized it’s just an afternoon nap to escape the heat. They will plop over anywhere when it’s time for a snooze. Just like the need to bath, or pee. When it’s needed they do it.
There are no rules to life here. Everyone goes about their day trying to survive. To some that means they sleep all day in the shade, to others they are moving cattle or washing clothes to wear the next day. I wish I understood more.

Mud is everywhere. Trash is everywhere, unfinished buildings and makeshift shacks are everywhere.

The one thing that really puzzles me is how these smart clean people live in a disorganized filthy environment!
The men always have pressed and clean shirts The women are walking ordainments. They are covered heard to toe in amazing bright fabric with their hair always pulled into a braid. and the children wear freshly washed uniforms to school everyday! They look fantastic!
It floors me to see a gorgeous woman walk out of a mud, fly infested, hut and shop in the village that looks like a tornado wrecked havoc on it.

India has beautiful people. I don’t think India is beautiful