Wait, isn’t this a month late? That’s what I assume you’re thinking. Yep, it is, but I discovered this nifty ‘publish later’ function. So I thought it would automatically publish while I was in China. I was wrong. But better late than never, right?
I was sad to realize that I’d be missing Holi this year. Even as I work as a freelancer, work seems to coincide with most things fun. Because what’s not fun about a bunch of people throwing coloured powder and water at each other? Well, a whole lot of things actually. Powder up your nose, powder on your tongue, powder down your underwear. I’m also not a huge fan of being powdered or hosed down by complete strangers – and especially not two days before Holi even rolls around. If you’re ever in India in March do not, I repeat do no, wear anything you care about for the whole week of Holi.
But I managed to convince a reluctant Mister to let me play for a little bit before heading off to the People’s Republic. Even he had to admit he enjoyed it. Whether or not I accidentally carried any of these powders on my body to my meetings in China will remain a secret.
Again, its been quiet for a while. Mister and I hopped a flight to New York for some wedding planning business. While we were in the West enjoying snow storms, spring came and went in Delhi. Blooming trees are already hemorrhaging flowers, dogs are taking refuge in cool stairwells, and our cat has shifted from the sofa to the marble floor.
But all I want to share with you today is this. The glorious welcome we all receive when arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Much has been said and written about the carpets at this airport, and rightfully so. You can’t wheel suitcases on them, which is slightly annoying when you’re at an airport. And its a CARPET. In Delhi. A dusty, dirty, did I say dusty place. It takes a special kind of genius to come up with these ideas. And did I mention that it is a particularly ugly carpet?
I can’t wait to walk on it again tonight as I board my flight to China.
I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I was suffering through Delhi winters. But it doesn’t really get that cold. It’s just that it’s as cold inside as out. Which has been a little bit difficult to accept for a Nordic person (despite spending 4 winters in Rome, with equally poor ‘insulation’).
Being a new kitten in Delhi winters is tough, which is why we built Billy a house and fed him high-fat milk, and eventually just took him in and adopted him. For dogs, it seems to be a whole different story. Street dogs in Delhi are the most spoilt of any street dogs I’ve seen. I provide you evidence: street dogs in jackets.
Delhi winters can also be pretty great for us humans. It means you can actually sit in the sun and enjoy, rather than avoid it like the plague like you do another 9 months of the year. That means picnics! Chai in the park! Lingering at the market! And going down south to get some sun on wintery white bodies!
Now, winter seems to be drawing to a close – jackets are off during the day. Personally I am very much looking forward to walking barefoot on marble floors again. But I have a feeling I’ll regret wishing for warmth soon enough ..
The second thing people think about when they hear India, after sights, is smells. Its one of the many things abundant in India. Good smells, bad smells, and the really, really bad smells. There are certain junctions where I’ve learned to hold my breath, and a couple of roads I’ll make a detour around if I can.
Most developing countries smell the same to me. When I go on mission and get out of the plane, it always smells like third world (usually a good thing, if you ask me). It smells of sand, heat, tropical greenery, old buildings and new spices . At least that’s what I like to imagine that it is. Delhi, then, smells like developing country +. And today it was marvelous.
Despite the smog that’s had me coughing for a few weeks, everything smelled just right. My four autorickshaw rides were all olfactory delights. It was just that perfect temperature outside, where the heat brings out the smell of the plants and the dirt, but its still cold enough that you get a lingering smell of last night’s roadside fires. Every dhaba was cooking up a feast. Hints of the sweetest incense flowed from every corner. No animals seemed to have defecated anywhere. And my kitty learned to use the litter box, so there wasn’t even a hint of cat urine when I got home. How about that?
All in all, today was a good day to be on the road. I will enjoy it to the fullest before the heat sets in and the rot inevitably takes over.
When I first came to India in 2006, one of the first things I noticed was the music. Not the old movie soundtracks that the rickshaw wallahs play (which I absolutely love, by the way). No, I’m talking about the pop music. Of the 1990s. Still being played in every single coffee shop. Every day. In 2006, Bryan Adams was the hottest act on the music scene. For your ringtone, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was the number one choice – 9 years after Titanic was released.
Celine Dion’s popularity may have faded somewhat (I’ve only heard that ringtone once or twice this time around), but Bryan Adams’ star never fades. I’m pretty sure playing Summer of ’69 on an hourly basis is required to obtain a liquor license in Delhi.
There’s a restaurant bar that serves decent western fare just a short walk from our house. Unfortunately we cannot dine there. The 10 songs on loop, which include Summer of ’69 of course, also includes hits by the Village People and Baha Men (I dare you to guess which ones). Their cheesecake is served with a side of boybands,
You see, the Backstreet Boys and Boyzone never grew old in India, but followed their fans (all 1 billion of them) as they grew up to become adults – who should know better! I can’t tell you what the top pop songs of 2012 were, but I can sing you ‘As long as you love me’, word by word. Thank you, Cafe Coffee Day.
This is the essence of India, I tell you. India is the country where grown men in suits and ties keep Boyzone albums in their car, and pump up the volume for ‘Words’.
I realize it’s been quiet from this end for a while. The festive seasons came and went, interrupted by a work trip to Bangladesh, a social trip to the mountains and friends’ visits to Delhi.
I just returned from two weeks in Norway, where I enjoyed indoor heating and cockroach free bathrooms (it took me a good week to stop looking for them).
Back in Delhi it’s cold as (insert expression of choice here) and we had to give in and purchase a heater. And another one the day after that. We have 8 blankets in the living room, and lots of tea. And a hot water bottle. The targeted ads in my browser clearly reflect my dreams of trips to warmer climes.
But all is well. We’re happy and healthy on this 6th day of the New Year, and we’re even extending some of our food and heat to less fortunate souls, like this little creature we found outside our front door this morning. He managed to sneak by us and place himself next to one of our newly acquired heaters – and he has no intention of leaving. Undernourished and injured, he impolitely declined an offer of soy milk (read: spit it out) and settled for some highly sought after Makrell i tomat, specially imported from Norwegia.
In other news, 2013 comes with lots of changes and challenges. I’ll be trying out some more careers (nutrionist/health coach, specifically). Mr Cyriac and I will be getting married. We’ll be deciding where to go (or stay) next. And who knows, maybe we’ll be raising a limp kitten. Only time will tell. And I’ll do my best to tell you all about it here.
It’s been quiet on my blog for a while. “Yoging”, as Mr Cyriac calls it, has taken up most of my time – but as a result, I am now a certified yoga teacher, as can be evidenced by this photo.
One place that’s certainly not quiet is our house. Noisy at the best of times, it’s positively loud now that Diwali is upon us. Fireworks are going off in every direction (mostly sideways along the ground), and they’re of a particularly ear splitting variety. The kind that makes you lose your bearings for a bit if you’re standing too close. And the smoke they give off blends nicely with the winter “fog” (read: smog) to make blowing your nose at night a real pleasure. As a certified yogi, I suppose now is the time to start using that neti pot.
I don’t know if Diwali is also responsible for our neighborhood sikhs suddenly starting to start chanting down our street with drums and bells at five in the morning. I’ll admit it’s slightly more exciting than the nocturnal dog fights between our guard’s latest ‘acqusitions’, Kalu and Brownie, and anyone who dares step into their street. I still prefer sleep though.
I’m pretty sure the drum-beating monkey keeper who has recently stationed himself on our street corner has nothing to do with Diwali. He’s just annoying all year round and now he happens to be annoying us. His monkeys are pretty cute still.
Diwali is not all bad, of course. It’s a great excuse for putting up our Christmas lights early (I believe here they’re called Diwali lights!), for admiring miles and miles of brilliantly orange marigold garlands down every street, for buying pretty flower petals, and lighting candles all over the house. And eating sweets. Diwali cupcakes? Sure, have two.
So today, on the festival of lights, may the light of love and divinity shine brightly in all of your hearts. And may no firecrackers come flying through your windows. Shanti!