INDIA ADVENTURES, DARN THAT’S THE END: In our last episode, Sage rode the Ladies Only car on the subway and a teenage couple gave us all hope that bookstores will live forever. And now, it’s the series finale.
I am sitting on the plane writing this entry in a notebook with a pen. In two hours fifty minutes we will be landing in Toronto and I am ending our India Adventures with a List of Lists. Let’s start with…
3 Things That Didn’t Make It Into Entries:
* The elderly man on the subway who told a young woman to get out of her seat because “of the elderly” and when she did, he told ME to sit down instead. (I thanked them both and said I was okay standing and hilariously the young woman was like, great, and sat back down.)
* The autorickshaw driver who asked for 300 Rs. ($5.62) and when Todd was reluctant the driver asked in Hindi, “So, just curious, what’s the exchange rate for one Canadian dollar in India?” which was an EXCELLENT question and Todd paid him what he asked.
* The monkey who carefully put a plastic bag over razor wire and then climbed over it into the No Monkeys Allowed area.
3 Things I Was Surprised By:
* The slow dance of traffic turning chaos into order. (I saw a boy FLYING A KITE in the middle of the road and he was perfectly fine.)
* Security checks by rifle-toting security guards in orders to ride the subway, get into a dosa restaurant, and buy a deck of cards at the 99 Rupee Store.
* The easy and sweet way men walked with arms around each other and holding hands.
3 Things I Will Do Next Time:
* Fly to one place and stay there for three weeks. (But which place? I loved them all!)
* Acknowledge that weather is not predictable and pack more than one pair of longjohns, because that one pair was SUPER gross by the end.
* Book workshops and performances and THEN the hotel, as close as possible. Bangalore’s twenty kilometres can take as much as ninety minutes in a tension filled taxi.
3 Things I Learned:
* Help the starfish in front of you, and then help the next one.
* Even when crossing the 401 without a helicopter, long walks are the best way to experience everyday living.
* Having blue hair meant people asked for my photo all the time. But then I got to ask for a photo too, from people I’d normally feel too shy to talk to.
* (Bonus: I never did learn what you’re supposed to do post-hose in the absence of toilet paper, so pack travel kleenex.)
3 Things I Dreaded That Never Happened:
* Having watched way too many seasons of The Amazing Race, I imagined a never-ending way-too-fast rush from one day to the next interrupted only with exhausted moments of sleep. Walking everywhere I could made that worry a happy impossibility.
* I thought I’d pull my usual travel trick of reading inside the whole time, but I was having too much fun writing these entries for you guys instead.
* I thought I wouldn’t know how to make friends – and instead of making friends, I gained sisters and brothers and grannies and even a niece and a nephew (who at ages 4 and 9 are definitely already smarter than me) – people who are so warm and so kind that – I AM NOT CRYING SO SHUT UP.
3 Things I Recommend:
* Want to see everyday life?
Stay in a room in an AirBnB instead of a hotel. Ask your hosts where THEY like to spend time. (Toronto residents go to the CN Tower twice: once when they move here, and once when their relatives visit.)
* Want to help humans while you’re there?
Look up NGOs in your chosen location. Ask how you can help when you’re in town.
* Not sure how to connect to local people?
Find out what’s happening that connects to YOUR passions. I mean, if Buildings Built By Emperors To House Their Dead Wives and/or German Tourists are your thing, then go to the Taj Mahal. But just in case you like other stuff, like playing board games. Maybe there’s a board game cafe. How about storytelling shows? There may very well be one happening in your chosen location. Whether it’s improv or climate change lectures or learning to weave, find out what’s happening in your destination that fascinates YOU.
3 Things I Will Do The Minute I Get Home:
* Give my son a massive hug and then snorngle the cats once for every time I wasn’t allowed to touch a squipmunk or a doggle or a cow or a monkey.
* Put the smartphone I used in India deep in a drawer and go back to the happiness of being Analog Sage (ALWAYS THE 80s NEVER CHRISTMAS) who doesn’t own a smartphone.
* Stand at a traffic light and press the button over and over again just to watch it turn from “Don’t Walk” to “Walk”.
3 Most Memorable Moments:
* The very moving Rakhi ceremony with Mitali, gaining the sister I never had.
* Being ridden by a baby monkey who held my blue hair like reins.
* Telling a story in a Jaipur park to the Saksham children, all of us singing, “Aroooo, arooo, arooo, arooo…”
And now, I’m sitting at my desk typing this entry. Outside the ground is covered in snow and silence. No honking, no street dogs, no man singing his “Recycling! Bring down your recycling!” song as he pulls his cart along the dusty street. I miss India already.
My scarf still holds the faint scent of woodsmoke and chai and grannies.