>Time is one of those concepts that used to make perfect sense to me, but now that I am older and stupider, I find it confusing. For example, can it really be possible that at this time one week ago today I at the extremely run down and utterly unorganized airport in New Delhi, getting ready to come back to the US? It feels like a million years ago, and yet like I just got back yesterday. I have managed to adjust to our new toilet seat for the most part, although it still freaks me out a little to close the lid and still see the contents of the bowl go down as I flush.
Since I've been back for nearly a week now, and the beginning of my amazing trip was two weeks ago at this point (!), I realize that one of the best things about this trip was how damn alive I felt on it. Despite lack of sleep and intense conditions, I didn't have an underlying level of tiredness accompanying me wherever I go. Before I left, I almost always felt exhausted, no matter what I was doing. Even at things that were fun and I had looked forward to for ages, I felt like I wouldn't necessarily mind going home and crawling back into bed. This has been true on other vacations as well. But that little cloud lifted while I was in India. It was great.
That said, here are a few pictures from Sunday, March 26, which I cannot believe was already two full weeks ago: Rachel and I are bright-eyed and busy-tailed for our very first, extremely full, day of touring despite not sleeping very much the night before. This was right after we had our fateful attempt to go explore on our own and were followed by many people at different points of the less than pleasant walk. Incidentally, if you look at the glass partition at the front of the bus, you'll notice how class is played out in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in India. Behind the glass is where the passengers and tour guide sit, in air conditioning. In front of the glass is where the bus driver and bus driver's helper sit, driving for 12 hours a day with no air conditioning. Rachel and I were immensely bothered by this, as it's just fucked up to go out of your way to design a bus that makes the people working hardest separate and unequal. This charming individual was in the park near the President's Residence, Parliament, and India Gate, which was the first stop we made. When he set up shop, I suspected that he'd demand payment for the picture, but it was so worth it. After he slapped the drugged up cobra a few times to wake it up and then "charmed" it, he ran over to us and demanded a 100 rupees from everyone. I was going to give him 50, but he was so busy harassing John that I gave up and walked away. I did! This Alice in Wonderland trash can was in the parking lot of Qutb Minar, a victory tower begun in 1193 by the first of the Delhi sultans, and its surrounding ruins. The tower itself is a stunning engineering feat. From Qutb Minar, we headed to the Baha'i Temple. The lines were absurdly long, but we were able to cut ahead as part of a tour group. The gardens were absolutely stunning. On the way back to the bus, I freaked out either Bus Driver or Bus Driver's Helper (I can't remember which one) when I wandered off a bit and bought a carved wood recorder from a kid in the street. He thought I was lost.
From there, we went to the Birla Mandir, a very cool Hindu temple, but cameras were not allowed so I don't have pictures. We made Fearless Leader, our tour guide, very angry before we left the mandir because we insisted on stopping in the gift shop. Now I realize that he was just as mad about us shopping at a place that didn't pay him a commission as he was at the fact that this put us far behind schedule, meaning that we had to rush through dinner and still arrived late to our day's final destination, Lal Qila (Red Fort) for the horrendous sound and "light" show. This is Lal Qila at night. My new friend Liz saw me trying to take pictures of the fort in the dark and pointed out that my camera has a night vision feature. Bitchin'!
Probably this was one of the best days I ever had, only to be topped by Monday, March 27.