Monday, May 2, 2011

Final hours in India

It's been real.

Really hot.
Really delicious.
Really crowded.
Really colorful.
Really messy.
Really overgrown.
Really tranquil.
Really friendly.
Really detailed.
Really lush.
Really loud.
Really disjointed.
Really patient.
Really determined.
Really gentle.
Really inefficient.
Really hopeful.
And really, really mind-expanding.

And Bangalore is a city, as the sign below reads, that is constantly in-progress, in-process, as-yet-unfinished. I can't imagine what it will look like five years from now, if what I see today is a landscape that didn't exist a decade ago. I can only assume its denizens will come and go, go and come, all the while trying to manage and work with their small piece of this place.

I don't want to leave. I just want to be sitting around Deepak and Rashmi's table, with their family, eating amazing soups and lentils and breads. I want to go to ice cream at Polar Bear again and again, having the kulfi flavor, my favorite. I want to eat idlis and vadas and chapatis with sambar, coconut chutney, and a tiny metal cup of masala chai. I want to ride in a tuk-tuk through terrible traffic, barely making it through alive. I want to actually see Whitefield, where the techies live, and see their palatial workplace campuses. I want to see another Bollywood movie, eat another McDonald's McVeggie lentil burger at the same mall, and maybe even get yet another souvenir. I want to remember every amazing face that rushed past mine in the Bangalorean fray, in airport lines, and on the streets. I want to take more pictures of street signs, of produce markets, and of textiles. I want to explore the inexplicable Hindu temples that major and minor intersections are build around, since you can't mess with sacred spaces. I want to hear the speakers at the gorgeous mosque on Mysore Road, calling Muslims to prayer.

I'll leave you with the last event of our Kerala trip, when Andrew and I went two hills over ("a walk," our hotel proprietor assured me. a "trek" was more like it. I need to hit the gym HARD when I get home!) At the top of this hill you are rewarded with a 360-degree view of the Western Ghats, the fertile tea and coffee plantations in the rolling valleys, and the sharply contrasting yet compatible shrines that both Hindus and Christians climb to worship. The paths that diverge lead one group of worshippers to a series of crosses leading to the summit, the other leading the others to a cluster of mini temples.

Despite the fact that I felt about to pass out, I was sweating ridiculously, and I could feel the dismal failure of my month-long carbohydrate diet working to my ultimate disadvantage, I took in the view. I wanted to remember it, and saw it as the culmination of a long-ago goal, to visit this country that I'd spent hours dreaming about, dancing like I was part of, reading its authors voraciously, and preparing mere approximations of its foods.

 As I turned to leave, my eye caught a piece of cloth, a woman's scarf, waving in the breeze. It seemed to sum up my mixed feeling about having to descend and return, first back to Bangalore from Kerala, from Bangalore to London, and, finally, London to Seattle. The scarf, once white but aged by the wind and dust, glimmered with a sparkly edge. While it bade me goodbye, it also signaled that it just might be there for a while. Even if I should stand on that very spot again someday.


I have only seen a sliver of this place, a speck of its wonders. But I remain fascinated, entranced, and leave feeling greedy. I want more. This has been the trip of a lifetime, but I hope I have many more lifetimes in me. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Emily,
    I LOVE your writing style ;o)!
    Your Last Hours Blog is wonderful.
    It was SUCH a Pleasure meeting you all.
    Andrew called but i've started work on my Play and hence couldn't catch up with him this week. Will try and do so next week.
    All the Very Best to all of you especial Big Hug to the Lil one!