India is so multi-layered and multi-faceted it is difficult at times to know where to start. If I were to begin at the beginning I'd have many anecdotes to share, both commonplace and bizarre, at least in the eyes of some.
So instead of challenging myself, especially since I am sitting here with a Kingfisher Strong, The King of Good Times and very nice Indian beer, I will just write about my day.
When I woke up this morning at the crack of dawn (mild jetlag) I heard the ringing of bells. It was the local pujari (priest), offering morning puja (prayer) at the Ganesh temple (the elephant god) in front of the guest house where I stay. I realize there are many parentheses here. So I went outside to pay my respects to the elephant headed deity, who is in charge of auspicious beginnings and is the remover of obstacles. Something I think everyone could use. The pujari threw holy water in my face which was helped me wake up. I actually did not ask Ganesh for anything, I was just saying hello.
Since it was early morning the birds were active in the gorgeous garden of Santha Bagh. I decided to go for a swim and listen to the birds. The peacocks and green parakeets were the most vociferous and I saw two baby peacocks following their mothers. I saw bul buls, a white breasted kingfisher, black eagle, myna birds, green bee eaters, and many other birds greeting the day. Chipmunks frolicked everywhere. Yes, they were frolicking. It is a little slice of paradise here in my estimation. As my husband Dean said, he was surprised I did not see a unicorn. I often think how wondrous India must have been 200 years ago with regard to wildlife when there were a few billion less people. However, even today I am still sufficiently awed by the wildlife here from the pigs, cows, and elephants on the streets to the tigers, wild boars, and pythons in the National parks.
After my dip I went to the wholesale jewelry market by tuk tuk (small motorized vehicle). Sadly, there are many beggars along the street. It is difficult to ignore them, but it is impossible to tell who is legitimately impoverished and who is just collecting money for others. There are many legitimate organizations here that one can donate to (I have suggestions for interested parties). Some of the beggars are very persistent. Today one old, bent-over crone came up to my tuk tuk and touched my feet (an act of respect). She was smiling broadly. I ignored her, then she poked my leg several times with her crooked finger. No response out of me, no siree. She poked my knee. She then poked my ribs—several times. Nothing. The traffic light was long, and soon she wasn't just poking me, but tickling me. I laughed out loud. She had earned her 5 rupees. I'm sure this is one of the tricks in her bag, but it was new to me and worth the price of admission.
Until tomorrow (or whenever I have internet access).