Having difficulty finding time to post, but will make an effort.
I don’t like monkeys.
India seems to be patched together. From buildings stacked on top of each other, some propped up with wooden poles, to the taped-up rusted rickshaws, everything here seems to be in some state of disrepair.
I did not quite realize how aggressive I can be. In some ways, Chicago can be worse.
Saw the Taj Mahal today, heading back to New Delhi tonight with an Irish couple I met on the train yesterday. Been trading stories about politics and social issues. Heading north to the Himalayas in the morning.
This post is going to be short, because I’ve been staring at the top of my mosquito net, wondering what words to put down. And I should probably try to sleep even though most of you are most likely having lunch. Despite delays, I have arrived safely in New Delhi, India.
The net might be overkill, but I promised a lot of people not to get sick and die. I’ve artfully strung it from a curtain rod and propped it wide with pillows. My hostel room’s windows do not have screens — instead, there is a wooden lattice and solid shutters, opening onto a crooked alley where people pass below, calling out in Hindi.
My flight landed at dusk. For the first time in my life, there was a driver standing at the airport holding a sign with my name on it. Sheba and I hopped into his tiny car and careened through the darkening streets. Diving around cars, bicycles, rickshaws and pedestrians, he pointed out the sights: the ministers’ houses, the hotel where Obama (or, as he says, “omama”) stayed, the president’s house — mixed in with bursts of song and stories about his life. I greeted a little statue of his goddess, Durga, sitting on the dashboard draped with tiny flowers and dried petals. He gathered a pinch of petals and put them in my hands; I folded them in prayer and smelled the sweet, musty scent. He welcomed me to India and dabbed my forehead with a spot of red from his bindi.
I am here.
And more to come.
Three weeks away from departure (I delayed it a bit so that I could finish a series of immunizations), I spent around an hour and a half with a nurse practitioner today, discussing health issues I am going to face in Asia.
Between the villages and the volunteer possibilities, potential camping on islands and lingering up in the mosquito-dangerous Thai mountains, I’m in the high risk category. Which I knew. Although prepared and anticipating some intensity, I did not quite expect to receive six shots today.
Tetanus booster, polio, meningitis, typhoid, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.
The first three were a surprise: somehow DePaul did not require meningitis vaccination, and the other two were standard adult updates. The rabies and Japanese encephalitis vaccines are each a three-part series, so I will be back for more over the next two weeks.
Because six needles weren’t enough, I had my nose pierced again this afternoon — a small, gold stud, which will seem like a typical fashion statement in the cities and an important cultural sign in rural communities. I am not pretending I am Indian, but I am attempting to respectfully adopt visual signifiers that will make me more comprehensible outside of urban areas. Will be wearing a fake wedding ring and, along with Ayurvedic associations, nose piercings are associated with marriage. Focused on a poster of the Buddha in the piercing artist’s workroom while my eyes watered from the shock of another jab. This is really happening.
Feeling a combination of side effects (classic stiff arm as well), kind of a pathetic start, eh?