Art, Culture, and Ocean Conservation . . .


2/25/12

I leave India in five days and already I am beginning to miss it. Like a lover lost I start romanticizing the way the red dirt sinks into my skin, the sharp smell of mothballs, the horn richochetteing off the inside of the bus, the money-takers whistle that let’s the driver know everyones aboard, the shrines and offerings in every nook and corner, the cows and their straight forward looks as they take whichever path they please. In the heat of the day I wrap my saree over my head to block the sun and the smell of fresh jasmine swirls around my face from the individually tied blossoms hanging in my braid. Ill miss the five people doing each part of one job step-by-step where anywhere else it would be the work of one. The man hand stitching my parcels at the post office, the tailors and the silly look they give me as they whirlwind wrap sarees in the blink of an eye around themselves with a cheeky smile, the “which country?” question that is screamed from buses, whispered from rickshaws, and yelled from fields. The pride of each town and state that every Indian person beams with. It’s incredible and humble and glorious all at once.

We spent the day in Coimbatore, a busy Indian city in Tamil Nadu, and had quite the adventure. This is not a tourist town and I almost caused several accidents just from the shock people experienced over seeing someone white. I wore my saree and everyone said it was “Super!!” with big thumbs up. We took the bus today just because it was hot and we were tired of walking. The bus driver was insistent on my telling him where I planned to get off rather than just taking my money. When I confessed I had no destination at all the woman around me burst into giggles. The busman smiled and surprisingly gave me some change. There was a woman weaving flower blossom garlands together and when I went to purchase some the girls standing next to me bought them for me as a gift. It was so sweet. When I didn’t have a hairpin another woman on the bus gave me hers and the two red roses that she had also been wearing. I was so humbled and thankful by how beautiful this culture is. Eventually we exited the bus got some chai and then took the bus back in the opposite direction. We stopped in bookstores and found a rockin market. People were thrilled to see us coming through the stalls and showered us with free samples, free chai, tilka (the red dust/paste for your third eye), and compliments. Everyone shouted “hello!” in their best american accent as we went by. We were a big hit in the market place and caused quite a jubilant scene. It was good fun. Some homemade chocolate made for a good daycap and now its time to take a night train Chennai.

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