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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

on the road, again

i saw the taj! i saw the taj!!

and it is worth all the praise it gets.

tonight i am bording sleeper class (no ac, lots of poeple, open windows, flying debris, loud and in your face) to amritsar to catch a glimpse of the golden temple. We will be sleeping for free at the Gurudwara (sikh temple). and Inder has a list of places we must visit just for food. Traveling with a Punjabi = traveling to eat.

dont expect to hear much from me- i am in traveling heaven!

Monday, August 2, 2010

MON(, it's)SOON

When it rains it pours. Last Sunday I was on my way home when dogs started to howl and dreary, dark clouds rolled in. As rain descended on the city, I cuddled up to a mega mug of shitty cappuccino and watched as the city momentarily slowed down.

The streets weren't abandoned, but the showers forced everyone to stand still longer than usual. The chai walla continued to chop, blend, and pour tiny cups of sweet tea to drenched customers eager for a pick-me-up and cyclists made their way home weaving between groups of men blindly feeling through the murky waters.
Seeing grown men huddled together like athletes in knee deep water made me feel the same anticipation of a sporting event. Will they be able to
1. locate the sewer
2. get a firm grip
3. pull the lid off
4. caution others to the massive (& invisible) hole in the ground left behind
???????

When city infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired, citizens take maintenance into their own hands. Men wade through the waters for hours identifying sewers that can suck up the murky pools flooding the streets.  It seems that bystanders have made citizen plumbing a national past time, the cricket of monsoon season.
above: spectators

it took me an hour to get home after 2 hours of rain and i couldn't be happier about it.  The greenery that blankets Ahmedabad, the brisk air that makes me shiver at night, the slow pace and unpredictable weather all swirl together to make monsoon season the greatest season of them all!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mehndi

Women in India are particularly beautiful. They wrap themselves in decadent colors, bear the weight of jewels on their toes, ankles, fingers, wrists, necks, ears, noses, and even hair, pinch a bindi between their eyes, and paint their bodies with Mehndi.  It is a muslim tradition that has been happily adapted by the hindu community and is a must for celebrations, especially weddings.  
Applying Mehndi takes great skill and concentration as the fast drying dye is unforgiving.
While comparing our mehndi in a park in Jaipur one of us mentioned, "Same, same! But, different!" 




slowly tracing lines
along life and heart
delicate lotuses and vines
swirling
highlighting sex
making it darker
fuller
with lush leaves
more beautiful than reality
dots leading a path to fate
circling, spiraling the head
ringed in memories
stained lines to tell stories
each a mark of where
skin has touched skin
 
               "Mehndi" by Eila Mahima Jaipaul



Above: statue in Mumbai
Below: Sometimes women have only the tips of their fingers dyed. When asked why, they usually say, "beautiful, no?"


 
Above: during her brother's Janoi celebration
Below: traditional mehndi of the Adivasi community

Above: jewels in hand
Below: little ol me

Above: ink on skin
Below: marni
Brides sit for up to 7 hours getting detailed designs traced on their bodies and are then unable to move, its frowned upon to smear the dye, for another 2 to 5 hours. Its a task.  But the result is beautiful, elegant and something that bonds women from all over India.
sister of the groom


There is a dance party breaking out in the office- gottttta go!