The Pods Arrive In India...
This entry was posted on 2/21/2008 10:50 PM and is filed under India.
How to describe India? It reminds us a lot of Mexico. It's noisy, dirty, loud, vibrant, alive, colorful and amazing. It vibrates on a whole different level than what we're used to. In just two days we've seen so much. We've been woken up by the blasting of music and a parade celebrating a wedding in the middle of the week, we saw a real brawl in a restaurant that quickly escalated into a major fight between a restaurant owner and a table of patrons who were drinking alcohol in a no-alcohol-allowed restaurant. When they started bashing each other hard on the heads with the metal water pitchers, we opted to leave. It was "Bollywood" in action. If this had happened in the States, there would have been knives and guns. This was merely a thrashing given to non-behaving patrons. All this in our first day!
India is a vortex of spirituality. There are shrines along the roads and people understand karma and the importance of having a spiritual teacher. Cows and ox are considered sacred and are often seen with their horns painted gold.
Arriving from Singapore on a 5 hour flight to Mumbai (Bombay) we were delighted and relieved to find our driver waiting to pick us up. Addi had come from Meherabad, about 6 hours away and we had hired him through Pilgrim Express to be our safe passage driver. Our first stop was 2 hours out of Mumbai at the Indian version of a very busy and popular truck stop, only it was filled with colorful buses, cars and trucks. Addi deserted us and we were left to figure out for ourselves how to proceed to the communal dining area to buy our food and drinks. It turned out that you had to buy tickets for the food that you wanted from a central cashier and then go and wait in line for it. We ended up ordering a masala dosa and an onion uttapan. They were so fabulous that we are hoping we'll be able to stop there again on our way back to Mumbai in a week or so. Here's a photo of the stand we went to...
Here's our counter helper...
And the master Uttapan and Dosa maker...(they both really did love having their photos taken, they just don't smile for photos, ever!)
And the food we ordered: masala dosa and onion uttapan with mango juice...yum!
Driving in India is an art form that requires patience, guts, courage, determination and the utmost skill. It is kind of a free form flow of cars merging from every side and angle while at the same time you dodge motorcycles, tuk tuks, trucks, tractors and people attempting to cross the street. There really aren't any lanes. On the back of most trucks it says "Honk OK Please". A foreign phrase to us, it means please honk your horn lightly to let me know that you're on the side of me and probably want to pass. It's not an aggressive use of your horn, just an almost constant beeping to let others know that you're in their space.
It's not unusual to see overturned trucks, crashed trucks and cars, or just some huge truck or car coming straight at you on the wrong side of the road while going uphill or downhill, especially on any blind corner. Addi would just shake his head and say "crazy driver", over and over again. Driving in India requires nerves of steel for the drivers and passengers.
We had planned to spend the night in Pune at the Hotel Presidente. Here's a beautiful sand painting done in the lobby floor...
We also had our long awaited rendezvous with Joss who had been in India since late November living in Mysore studying music. He had traveled to Pune from Mysore on a 24 hour ($12) train
ride in 2nd class from Mysore. He was in great spirits and ready to
begin his spiritual retreat adventure with us.