Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Phar Out!

Wow it's windy today. Gusts up to 45mph! Ricia says it's never this windy for this long and did I bring this weather with me?? I wonder, myself. We're not going out this afternoon. It's too blowey, and on the blowing is lots of grit and pollen. I have to laugh. I was practically driven indoors in India due to high temps and humidity and now I'm indoors again for different reasons.

Really, I'm laughing!

It's fine to kick back, my body obviously needs to rest and recouperate from whatever airborn nasty I contracted on the plane. I did go for a walk earlier, to buy some beets (to use in the henna for my hair), restock our supply of ginger (Ricia makes a mean stir fry with tons of ginger and garlic), and snag a bag of organic carrots (at damn near Indian prices). Rocky is currently at a doctor's appointment and is swinging by Trader Joe's on the way home (Rocky is fine). I suggested dumpster diving to determine our evening dining menu. I am serious! But I think he's just going with my other suggestion (shrimp, to aid the veggies).

I can't wait to dive in a dumpster again though. Ricia didn't bat an eyelash when I asked about the local dumpster venues. Rusty, the guy who just vacated the room I'm staying in and who rents from Ricia for the winter before returning home to Slovenia or somewhere, would bring home loads of food from TJ's dumpster. Huzzah! I guess they don't lock 'em around here! If it's not too windy tomorrow and I'm feeling finer, I'm going to ride over and check it out (since I am not accompanying Rocky this afternoon).

Yesterday we traveled over Gates Pass, west, to Terra Sante and checked out the scene. They're doing some pretty cool things there - a bioharmonic sweat lodge is in the making at present:

Bruce, Ricia, and Janice (in the foreground, at right).

The idea is to sweat, and to bioharmonize. The round bump-outs you see are where people can sit and hum or talk. I guess these are pretty big news? I haven't googled, maybe you'd like to. There is even a shower head on a pipe sticking up out of the ground a few feet away, which I have no doubt works.

I call this place, Little India. There are pictures over here on flickr. There is stuff strewn all over the place, and things happening in the most unlikely places and ways, seemingly at random. A mixture of madness and magic? It's a desolate sort of area too...lots of mesquite, but nothing is really blooming, stretching for miles and miles. Why do people choose to cultivate land that is so inhospitable for supporting lots of human life? It can't be solely for the sheer numbers of us. I know that people have been living in the desert for eons, but on such a large scale? It seems so unnatural.

They sky is so dramatic, I love it:

Which is a nice foil, I think, to the relatively homogenous groundcover and colors.

So, backing up a bit here: I neglected to write that last week while I was at my aunt and uncle's, we visited an outdoor museum/learning lab sort of place called Tohono Chul. My uncle is a wonderful photographer, he's really into it and belongs to the community club. We all went to 'Chul for photo are a couple I snapped and the rest are up on the arizona flickr page (link to the left on the sidebar too):

Tree bark, top, and brilliant red flowers below. Some of the brilliance has been lost in jpg land transferring back and forth. Drags!

The last one reminds me of a nudibranch! Those undersea slug creatures, that come in a myriad of colors and often with tufts of fringy looking antenna and whatnot.

And as long as I'm playing catch-up, and am staying indoors so that I'm not colonized by pollen (there is actually a law against planting too many olive and something else trees, because of the pollen count!)...I'll transcribe more of my flight out of India:

11:30pm Delhi 26degrees (that's almost 80 degrees fahrenheit)

We've landed, I've used the toilet, I'm watered, and the gentleman at the help desk has told me "Not to worry " (in Hindi). He smiled and continued in English for me to wait just there for my bus at 23:40.

Many more men than women wandering around, and on balance, they're lighter, leaner, and more, ummmmm....western-looking here in the North. Arriving now, I almost wish I had just booked a flight for the North. seems a shame to leave the continent altogether. It's not broiler-oven hot (yet) and there is what feels like NO humidity. My skin is lacking that 24 hour sticky sheen. I've reached Nirvana!

But really.....I'm surprising myself by thinking I want to stay. (editor's note, as I'm transcribing...damn straight you're crazy.)

I listened to music on the plane - one traditional Indian number after another. Just beautiful. Tablas, you know...chanting. not the hi-pitched "Minnie walking on coals" wail (Lucy Bent (?), author of "Yoga School Dropout" coined that one) but the male singing -- reminds me of the Muslim prayers which I love.

I keep hearing how harsh the north is, how soft the south is by comparison. But a month in Dharamsala.....

And I remind myself that I can return. Really my time in India is complete, at least for now...the bus has started moving now. The Indian woman across the aisle finds me very curious.


Seated on the airplane now (no air conditioning yet). Just went through a bunch of bureaucratic bullshit, after being taken on tour in a coach to reach our port-of-call ten thousand leagues from our port-of-entry. Actually, the coast (bus) ride (which involved at least one double-back, as the airport is under what looks like a constant state of in-repair and renovation...what airport isn't??) started out fun. I even swallowed my momentary panic: "Are they mistaking me for a tourist? who wants to see Delhi? tonight?! Where are they taking us??!!"

This is one big-ass airport. With leagues of in-progress construction to give evidence of more big-ass-ness.

So, upon docking in Delhi airport proper, I'm told that I need to pay a Rs 1,300 development fee. Do they really think that petroleum is a renewable resource? In a few years I bet all air travel will come to an airbrake-screeching halt. What is my Rs 1300 paying for, anyway?

The man behind the counter insists I need to pay. I've already changed the bulk of my rupees to american dollars, back in the Land of Chennai. I need to hit the ATM and then pay at, "The window, just there." (did I mention that our flight from Chennai was delayed?) (forty small minutes remain to liftoff, from Delhi, which is where I am, STILL IN INDIA!!).

The window he gestured to I found at first to be non-existent. He clarified, "The small window." Oh yes right, the Orwellian peephole with steel bars!

I stopped by to confirm the price. You can't blame me. One lesson I've learned here is that most times when you ask the same question of different people, you get different answers.

He answers the same as the fellow at the check-in counter. I think they're in cahoots.

I run my numbers through the ATM, but they're sorry, and unable to process my request at this time. I recall a quote I heard recently: Fear is just excitement without breathing. I manage to hold it together. Not out of breath yet.

I ask Mr. Thomas Cook if he'll change my money and he says something negatory but strangely comforting (maybe it's his smile?). I am able to correctly interpret that the State Bank of India fellow next door is my sure bet. So I plop down my bag and chirp a hello (still breathing) and try to make myself understood, explaining the Situation. Mr. Bank of India's fatherly gaze (read: uncompromising and stern) delivers a reminder of just whose country I am in.

"Ten dollar minimum."

I pass the bucks and he passes me back Rs 490. Not bad. I only lost Rs190 (the rate and fees in Chennai were damn near dismal). Then I take the money, and run - back to the man behind bars. I stuff the bills under the bulletproof glass window, after peeling them off one by one and counting very deliberately. He asks for my ticket. I oblige.

Everyone who I hand my ticket to (okay except for those two nice girls who welcomed me at Chennai...god, that seems like a lifetime ago) inspects it gravely. What are they looking for? Is it in code? No matter, I have all the time in the world. You are carrying a very large semi-automatic weapon, Joe.

-oh hang on, a public service announcement: they're spraying our luggage with 'a completely harmless spray' JOY! At least it doesn't SMELL toxic-

Back at the barred window, I'm trying hard to not jiggle or tap my foot impatiently but I may have said Hurry the fuck up under my breath that I was trying not to hold. Mr. Bars begins to fill out a form. With great deliberation. My receipt. He says something like, "You go and ask price." I say, "Yes I've been to the ticket counter, he sent me here," and Mr. B keeps gesturing back to the check-in chap at the ticket window. Finally I say, "Yes, yes, he told me thirteen hundred rupees!"

Didn't we just run through this before I dahsed off to the ATM an eternity ago?!

this satisfied him and he resumed filling out my receipt. Then the phone rang and I clamped my mouth shut. I did, however, continue to breathe through my nose. Nothing like a little excitement to cure the midnight sleepies!!!!

The form completed, he passes it

(sorry I need to pick a tense and stick with it)

back through the slot. I restrain myself from tearing it out of his hand altogether, and practically bolt back to the check-in desk. I'm relieved when he's holding out my boarding pass, at the ready. I don't think I snatch it out of his hands; I do think to ask what I need to do next.

Mr. Man-Who-Previously-Smiled-At-Me hands me a form for Immigration and points in that general direction. He does not offer me a pen. I tractor my way to the Immigration compoind, fish a pen from my new shoulder satchel and grab a square inch of desk. In the queue, I choose the slowest. When I queue-hop to a newly spent line, a woman toting two or three children cuts in ahead, looks me square in the eye, "Sorry." I want to say, "Don't add injury to insult," but remember David's admonition: if you're running late and you're way down the queue simply cut ahead -- everyone does it.

A dog's year later I'm spat out the other end, heading for the home stretch: The security gate. I show a man my ticket, he joins me in my haste when he sees the boarding time (VERY SOON NOW), actually helps me to the correct gate. Only I've not acquired new luggage tags. I try not to whine asking the guard to admit me forthwith and nonetheless. He will have none of it and re-asserts that I need fresh tags and gestures vaguely, "Just there."

More confusion and rapidly rising blood pressure.


okay that's it for now; I've been typing on and off for several hours, and have even left the house to join Rocky with some friends, Myra and Guido, to see a documentary on Robert Johnson, father of the Blues. More about that later, we had a wonderful evening and I'm completely knackered. Nighters!

No comments: