India Journal, December 2009, Entry 7
It has been awhile since I posted, and I apologize for my absence.
The good news was that I was immersed in a writing and project management contract for a large IT company. Sadly, I found that, as when I worked as a salaried employee for the same concern, my concentration and most of my creative energy was tapped by end of the business day. -- Whenever I sat down to review my notes and continue to flesh out my India diary stories – no juice.
Today, the bad news is that the contract is over, with few prospects for new work on the horizon. I’m not worried, though. In fact, I’ll enjoy a brief respite! So --Back to work I go before my memory dims and I forget the color and details of this amazing experience.
I am totally overwhelmed. The number of people, the poverty, the wealth, the noise, the monkeys and cows and camels in the street, the smoke of the cooking fires, the film of dust on every surface I touch. I try to remember what Siobhan has shared in her calls home, hearing her voice as a mantra, telling us over and over to remember, “All things in their context.” Yes, Siobhan. This is not the West. And I am not at all sure that my heart can contain all the joy and sadness and fear and exhilaration … and desperation that surround us.
It has cooled down with the sun-setting, but the temperature still hovers around 95 degrees. At the end of our taxi tour, Samy takes us to, I am sure, two of his “paid” stops: The Delhi Hut, where we are surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of cottage industry handmade goods – and the intense young men who must make their livelihood by selling same to tourists like us; and a lovely garden restaurant where we have a delicious vegan meal and several ice-cold beers.( I might add that this is the best beer I have ever had -- the first and last alcoholic beverage we will have in India.) I succumb to buying a sari at the Delhi Hut. It is silk chiffon, a beautiful shade of sea-blue with delicate gold-thread embroidery. Maybe I will wear it to the wedding I’ll be going to in the early Summer. I think there is a tailor in Nashua who can help me with the blouse and skirt…
When we return to the cab after our dinner, Samy has evening prayers playing on his radio. He turns down the volume and asks if we would like to see “the most beautiful and reasonably priced silver goods in all of Nothern India”. He knows we are tired, and doesn’t press too hard when we day “no, not tonight”. He turns up the volume again and continues with his prayers, and we drive (or careen) along the winding streets of Old Delhi, back to our hotel, listening to the solemn and beautiful chanting of the Koran.
Samy is a gentle, good man. He is kind, funny, generous with his story-telling – and perhaps the least imposing Indian that we encounter on our amazing journey. When we arrive at our hotel, he opens the doors to his cab and, almost shyly, offers a hand-on-handshake to my husband. He respectfully bows to me, saying “Namaste, Mother”. While Tim settles our bill, I ask if he will wait a moment while I get something from our room. I run up the stairs to retrieve hair-barrettes and candies for his daughters.
I am not sure he knows what to make of my gift for his children.