Archive for March, 2007

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Back in Jersey…

March 26, 2007

… and trying adjust to life back in the States; it’s way harder than I expected. Life seems somehow much lazier, and yet way busier than I remember — and with so many things that really don’t feel like they matter. Still, I’m so looking forward to the joy of wedding #2 in April. Returning to life with this incredible, smart, silly, loving man I share my life with is certainly easing the transition; lessoning the sting of the intense missing. In so many ways, Delhi felt like home.

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Saying Goodbye: Part 1

March 18, 2007

On my final official day of work at Mother Teresa’s, I said goodbye to everyone without too much thought or intention, as Iindia-055.jpg knew I’d be back. When Damon arrived in India, there was some crossover and the ladies insisted on meeting “Didi Pati,” or “big sister’s husband.” The very idea that there was a man in my life, and I’d soon be a wife sent them into fits of giggles. Arranged marriages are still going strong in India, so for even the older women, my situation filled them with anxious excitement and mystery. I had said my half-hearted goodbyes to everyone, with the understanding that I’d to return with Pati on the given day.

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Have you seen the Taj?

March 14, 2007

When you’re in India, that’s one of the first things that everyone asks you. Itindia-441.jpg made me feel a bit self-conscious at first, and a kind of like a big, giant tourist. I probably rolled my eyes a bit and feigned a touch of indifference, like, “Yeah. I know I’ll get there, cuz I have to check it off the list, but in the meantime I want to live like a local, go where they go, eat what they eat, do what they do.” (All the while, I was dutifully planning a day trip for when Damon arrived.)

indiadamon-137.jpgWe left Delhi at 4am in hopes of enjoying the sunrise over the tomb. We arrived a bit late to see the pink and orange tinged marble resolve to white, but no matter. The Taj really couldn’t disappoint even if it wanted to. It’s flawless. And turns out, Indians can’t resist the lure of this obscenely beautiful place either — so we were either all tourists that day, or all Indians. Maybe a bit of both.

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Boys chasing rickshaws

March 14, 2007

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Utter disregard?

March 14, 2007

Soon after I arrived in India and resumed posting again, a contrarian (and beloved) friend offered the following nugget in the comment section: “India is the world’s largest Controlled Chaos experiment. Their utter disregard for each other’s poverty/starvation/cleanliness/lack of shelter is awe inspiring.” Being used to, (and generally pleased by) his blunt provocation, I wanted to argue the point, but wasn’t really ready for the debate. Instead, I shook my head knowingly, rolled my eyes and moved on. With some time and distance, however, I’m ready to take it on.

Here’s some stuff you should know:

More than 93% of India’s population is either a) unemployed, b) self-employed, or c) off-the-books, and there is barely a system for collecting taxes from these workers. There is even less of an ability to pay. These are the men selling raw spices off a small towel spread on a traffic median, or the woman who carry the raw sugar cane on their heads from the fields to the fire and they make pennies a week, if that. These are not tax cheats — even if these workers could or wanted to pay taxes, they’re so disconnected from the system by geography, literacy, administration, and registration, that the idea of collecting from them is almost silly.

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Damon takes an Indian bride

March 9, 2007

Over the course of my month here in India, friends who’ve learned that D & I are about to get married, and that he was coming to visit at the end of my stay have pushed, half-seriously, for an Indian wedding. Last week, I was visiting the extraordinary archeological park at the Qutb Minar, and my flatmate Karen suggested we have a Hindu ceremony amidst these ruins. I conceded that the ancient pillars and carvings made for a dreamy setting, but that we couldn’t begin to make something like that work in such short time and with our travel plans. Fast forward to raucous Holi celebrations with CCS friends and staff, free-flowing Kingfisher and whiskey, and a jet-lagged Damon nodding in happy confused agreement, and a plan was hatched.img_0769.jpg

In three days, our friends pulled together the most beautiful wedding ceremony on a rooftop in Hauz Khas, leaving their placements early to decorate the place with marigolds and set up the traditional implements for the Hindu priest. Our “western” wedding in April is still very much on, but how could we resist the mystical ritual, evocative setting, the sensual beauty… and of course, the red saree and turban…?

More photos of me and my husband after the jump…

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Happy Holi!

March 9, 2007

Holi is celebrated by Northern India on in early March to mark the arrival of spring, the triumph of good over evil, and to express love to your family, friends and neighbors. (There are conflictingindia-308.jpg tales from Hindu mythology used to explain the rituals, but no one can seem to agree on the source.) It is the most festive and joyful of all Indian celebrations, and is everyone gets into the act. Bonfires are burned the night before the full moon, and the following day is spent raucously coloring those you love with vivid powders and tinted water. We celebrated Holi, as the locals would say, “aggressively” and Damon arrived in India just in time to join us. Looking forward to sharing the full, fun range of images as soon as we return to the states, with a giant gallery of all my photos from the month. In the mean time, I  give you: Holi — 2007.

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