Monday, September 11, 2006

Hello Delhi!!!

Today is sept 11, 2006 and it is the morning here in delhi, slightly cloudy so we have some respite from the oppressive heat and humidity. its wierd, the english language newspapers are have articles about the 5 year anniversary of theWTC attacks and then frontpage articles about the bombing that happened theother day near Mumbai (bombay) in the state of maharashta, in a city called malegaon. the english alnguage newspapers here arefilled with bull shit about america like the latest gossip on paris hiltion or angelina jolie. there is also tons of gossip stuff about the bollywood stars, it's brain mush. the style of newspaper journalism here in the enlighs language papers that i have been reading seems really informal, and not up to the professionalism standards that i am used to in the west. there is alot of english shorthand that i dont understand here. there is also alot of ultural markers that i dont have. this morning i was reading about this guy who mysteriously died in a mall in the wee hours of hte morning. apparently, in this ity alled noida, there is a disoteque in the mall (this seems to be a ommon thing judging from the way it was mentioned in the paper) and th police werent called. he seemed to have either fallen or been ushed off a high floor into the mall's lobby. he was found nby his fiance, and then was declared "brought dead" (exact quote)at the hospital. the mall authorities then cleaned up all the blood. police and the hospital didn't identify this dude's next of kin, and neither did the fiance. now the weirdest thing about all of this to me is the casual nature in whih this is reported. no one seems too angry about it, it is on the front page, and even though it is under the headline "MYSTERY DEATH IN MALL: suicide of murder?" it seems sort of daily news-esque in the sensational, editorialized way they reported this. there also seems to have been some sort of grisly murder of this woman named jessia lall that is being investigated right now b/c of police negligance and evidence tampering that they ompared it to. anyway. onto different stuff.
being in india is nutz!!! it is so overwhelming! the sights, sounds, smells and sensations are all different here. alot of the things here are things ppl have always told me about india: the poverty, the beggars, the animals that just run around, the traffic, the smell. i had some idea what to expet as far as that went, but it is nothing like experiencing it. the poverty here is the thing that above all i have the most trouble with. women with infant hilden follow u, hand outstrethed, asking in hindi for a pittance in american pennies to buy her baby some food. it is harder for me in those instanes b/c i can atually understand what they are saying (more than the other kids i'm with anyway)and it is so hard to see all this destitution and desperation and not give everything i have. i know i an always make more money; inshallah i have much more life and earning ability ahead of me. these people have no hope, no chance. giving to beggars here is really dangerous, espeially some place you will be frequenting. they will then wait for you and hound you for more. the children here are just heartbreaking. like all hildren in the world, they are beautiful. joy in their eyes, music in their laughter, innocence in their interactions. also like many children of the world, they are undersized, malnourished, barefoot, extremely poor, in need of medial attention and often are hardly clothed. it really shook me when a woman (young or old, i have no idea, people here seem ageless. there are those obviously young, like the hildren i describe, and then the very old people, and everyone in btween seems beaten down by their lives to a point beyond reognition, where their hardships are all they know and death is present in every breath and moment. it really shook me when a woman (young or old, i dont know) walked up to our auto rikshaw in the middle of the street to beg for money for roti for the tiny infant she held in her arms. the woman's han was out, begging, and so was the barely 6 month old child's. talk about learned behavior. that broke my heart and made me sik at the same time.
i really like delhi, i wish we were staying longer. we leave in a few hours to head up to missuri in the north to our homestays and language school. there is so much to see and do here, i haven't even scratched the surface. every one else is really tired, experiencing culture shock and hating delhi. it is a rough place to get situated i guess, especially since we are leaving again so soon. i plan to come back here at some point, maybe next semester!!!
so my favorite way to travel here in delhi is by auto-rikshaw. it is a rikshaw that is powered by a motorcyle engine and is partially enclosed, more substantial than the bicycle rikshaws and runs on natural gas. three people fit comfortably in the back, and you can have someone sit in the front with the driver, but we don't recommend that. one of our boys was molested by a driver yesterday!!! horrible, right? it is insane to ride in them since you are literally an inch from every moped, bike, car, truck, bus, bike rickshaw, cow, stray dog, boar, or group of people on the street. some ppl saw an elephant on the highway yesterday, but i've only seen cows (bulls) and dogs running in the streets. we saw some blak wild looking pigs rifling through the many fetid piles of garbage on the side of a glorified dirt road btwn our guest house and the metro. delhi has a year and a half old metro system which seems clean and efficient. the people riding on it are better off, wear more western style clothing, have cell phones, and som of the younger ones hang out in co-ed groups!!! scandal!! things are muh more progressive here in the city than where we will be going next. the metro is a strange thing to reconcile with the inredibly bakward poverty that exists as soon as u exit. so many beggars! people who are limbless and so skinny you hardly notie their missing appendage wait for you when you enter the metro at connaught circus, whih is a place full of shops, restuarants, banks and some movie theaters where delhi-ites go. we tried to find lothes there, and i was too set on haggling, and i missed out on a really ute white short sleeved shilwar khameez i wanted. hopefully in missuri i will get some things amde pretty inexpensively so that i'll have some clothes. i brought 2 outfits to india, one i wore on the plane, the other i changed into and was wearing for 2 days straight after. gross. my leaders, mike & siri, suggested that instead of bringing my giant bakpaker's pack, i should pak as little as possible, put my things into small stuff sacks and divide it amongst my fellow group members. this way all ihave with me is my "freedom fanny," a giant fannypak that is basially a bakpak on my hips. i then have a small collapsable duffel bags that the last few remaining things go in and what i keep everything in when we arent travelling. i spent so muh $ on stuff before i got here; as soon as i get home, i'm returning it all. all of that is to explain that i need to get clothes so that i can be as clean as possible and not wear the same thing all the time. there is so muh more to write about!!!! i have to go pak to leave for missuri now...we're taking the train. this is a very common way to get around india and i am excited to experiene it, but it is very easy to get robbed on the train. we have to be on our toes to take it, and i have also read/heard about so many horrible things happening on trains in india (Earth anyone? the namesake? july 11, 2006, mumbai?) that i am a bit apprehensive about it. please comment once u read the blog!!! this is how i know u are and miss me:( dont u are and miss me? love, learning, growth and fulfillment~


Mariko said...

Wow. i'm really jealous about the things that you are experiencing. It really must be amazing for you to be in India. I love your stories. please don't get mugged or killed on the train. And yes, I am commenting and thus i miss you :-P

mujtabag said...

as salamu'alaikum Yazi,

words can never quite prepare you for the real thing, eh? Have fun, and be safe, we're thinking of you!

-Mujtaba and Nuzhath

Frick said...

Hey Frack!
I'm glad you are ok and probably faring better than your fellow travelers. Sounds like you are already encountering the new experiences and places that you looked forward to! I'm so proud of you. Can't wait to hear more. I already have tons of questions after reading each blog entry. I'm listening to Rent and missing my best friend! luv ya and stay safe