Friday, June 23, 2006

Someone around here is nuts.

I was in the local internet shop, and reached for the one of the two sets of headphones on the wall next to me. "Can I use these?" I asked. The young guy who runs the shop said, no, they don't work. "Then why are they here??" In moments of weakness, I forget where I am and ask reasonable questions, knowing that it will lead to a deeply unsatisfying conversation. He looked at me with that 1,000-mile stare, like I'd suddenly switched to Mandarin. So I repeated the question: "If they don't work, why do you keep them?" A blank look, followed by shuffling of feet, followed by a long silence - and still no answer. Days later, the headphones are still there, and presumably, still don't work. I may go to my grave haunted by the question of why those broken headphones are hanging there.

I went to the cafe at a monastery, run by well-spoken monks, and asked if they had veggie momos. He said, "Yes, we have momos." Good, then we'll have two plates. "Sorry. Momos won't be ready for two hours." Now a sane and reasonable person would say, volubly (if that's a word), "What did I JUST ask you? JUST now? And didn't you JUST tell me you had momos?!" But on this day, it wasn't a weak moment, and anticipating unsatisfactory intercourse, I ordered fried rice, barely missing a beat.

My guess is that as you read these examples, you're laying out possible reasons for their behaviour. If so, you're afflicted with Western Mind Disorder - trying to make sense of India using your Western mind, which is what got you into the problem to begin with. What you need is a trip here. It won't cure you of your disease, but boy you'll get lots of practice observing its effect. At various times you'll come to the conclusion that someone's nuts, but you won't be sure if it's you or them. Ahhh! That alone is enough reason to come.


There are 11 photos below, and they don't have anything to do with the stories above. They're from the Pindari Glacier trek that I went on a while ago:

A view on the trek.
This very pregnant woman had fallen on stone steps. The village built a type of seated stretcher, and young men volunteered to carry her 15 miles or so to the nearest road, and then put her in a jeep to the nearest hospital, another 20 miles away. We found out later that her baby died.
This little girl's dad, Jai, makes some wicked pancakes! He was also incredibly gentle and sweet.
This is Jai's other daughter.
A friend of the girls above.
Boys from the village of Kathi, where we spent about a week total.
Making little out of big ones. This is how gravel is made throughout India - by hitting a big rock with a hammer until it breaks. Kids work like this in their spare time, sometimes with Mom and Dad doing the same on either side.
The river on a rainy day.
High up the valley, and only a few hours from the glacier.
These gigantic boulders have either rolled down from the mountains, or they are "erratics," boulders carried by the glaciers and then deposited when the glacier recedes.
Jennifer (from the U.S.) and Inbal (from Israel.)
More trekking photos next time.
(The End)