Wednesday, September 24, 2008

India Day 8 The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good
Today was my day off so out to explore the city we went. We were a regular league of nations with Keith the Englishman, Jessica the Australian, Juhye the Korean and me the American. We took the bus to Red Fort. I will let the pictures speak for themselves because it is difficult to describe the beauty of this ancient treasure. The funniest part of this was the fellow who told his friend to get his picture with the American. From here we headed across the street to the Digambar Jain Temple. This temple is known as a hospital for birds. The inner sanctuary was covered with gold. It was almost gaudy it was so over the top. This is also the place where Keith almost got his shoes stolen. You can't wear shoes in the holy places and when we returned to retrieve them his were missing. There was a bit of British style bloody cursing but the shoes were eventually returned. I think he scared them. From there we took a walk to the Jama Masjid masque. Wow, this place is huge, beautiful, and old. The problem is, with no shoes on, the floors are like giant hot irons, ouch. Then it was time to try a new mode of transportation, the bicycle rickshaw and we were off to the spice market in Chandi Chowk (the largest spice market in all of Asia.)

Have you ever had a parade watch you? This was perhaps one of the most amazing, colorful and flattering events of my life. As we emerged from a back alley full of dried peppers we saw a parade, coming down the street. Everyone loves a parade especially me. This was of course to celebrate one or two or perhaps ten of their gods. As the band started to play I began to bob my blond head instinctively. I quickly became aware the instead of me watching the parade, the parade was instead watching me. The musicians and the crowd had turned towards me. They were pointing and smiling and motioning towards me. They wanted to watch me. They wanted me to dance. So, I danced, and Juhye danced and Jessica danced. They pulled us into the middle of the street, the center of the parade. People were smiling and clapping from all sides, from the front and the back and the rooftops. Everyone was happy, they were happy watching us dance. When we would quit dancing mobs of people would gather around us to get their pictures taken and to shake our hands and to wish us well. And then we would move on and dance some more. Did I mention the devil dancer. I tried to video tape him from the rear of the crowd but they would have noting of it. They split the crowd and pulled me up with the holy men to watch and to dance. Dance with the devil? I had to refuse. So we walked a bit further and there were boys and drums, and we danced. And then more pictures. An old man gave me a handful of nuts to eat and offered cigarettes to Keith. We danced until we could dance no more. It was so much fun. From there we caught a tuk tuk and went for a bite to eat.

The Bad
As we were eating dinner when the breaking news came on the flat screen. Everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and watched. Delhi was bombed by terrorist today. The bombs went off very near to were we just were in the markets, less then 1km from where we were eating. Many people were killed and even more injured.
(Note from the future, 5 bombs went off and 20 people were killed. 2 of the bombs went off in Connaught Place, the shopping center where we were eating. We were about a city block from the explosions.)

The Ugly
Delhi has beggars so many beggars. They line the steps to the mosque. They approach you at every major intersection in the market area. There are people horribly disfigured, people with limbs missing, twisted and distorted. It’s so sad to see and they all call out to you, “please, please, please.” The most disheartening though are the children. “Please”, they say as they motion with their hands towards their mouth. “Rupees sir, please, please, ten rupees.” They find you no matter where you are. They follow you through the markets or travel across hazardous roads to your vehicle to beg. There were even children performing tricks by the sides of the cars, one played a drum while the other did contortion tricks. I wish I could find the parents who send their kids out like this and punch them square in the face and then take their kids home with me. I know that poverty is real and is a fact of life for these people but this is not the way to deal with it. You don’t pimp your kids out as beggars. I don’t know, maybe they are orphans. I don’t know, I just don’t know.


melanie said...

You danced.
I love that.
Your heart broke.
As it should.
You never know where this trip and the desires and thoughts that it stirs in your heart will take you during your life.
I would love to hear (after you're finished with your journal) how you feel now, after your trip. As in, how do you feel different?

Reverb said...

Great post.