Sunday, March 16, 2014

City of Joy

After a long trek, I hath returned to my dearest India. My trip was indeed long but thankfully pretty uneventful.  I hopped the metro to National and caught a flight to Atlanta, where I headed over to Dubai.  The flight to Dubai was long, but it passed over movies and interrupted sleep.  I watched the Exotic Marigold Hotel- a good movie about India, and could barely wait to get back.

It was strange, I basically lost a day as I left friday night and arrived in Dubai on saturday night.  I had 6 hours to kill in layover, so I bought my way into a first class lounge.  It was about $60 and was worth every penny.  After the long flight from Atlanta to Dubai, the warm shower, hot food and scotch helped soothe out the miles. I killed time and caught my last leg at 2am from Dubai to Calcutta.  

I arrived back to India and was beaming.  I passed through customs and through the airport outside.  The air had the familiar smoky smell that I missed.  I walked out into the teeming India I missed.  I stopped over at a chai shop and had a cup and chatted up with some locals who were curious about the farang in their midst.  I tried to figure out how to grab a bus, but realized i was much better served taking a cab.  I got a yellow MG Ambassador taxi to take me into the city.  We weaved through the morning din, and I hopped off on Park Street to find a hotel for the night.  I wandered down to Sudder Street, which I recognized as the place I stayed before.  I grabbed a cheap room for the night at a guest house.  I splurged a bit and got a bathroom in my room.  It cost me $6 for such luxuries.  

After I plunked my stuff down, I went out to get some fresh-squeezed sweet lime juice.  I then found a barber shop, and shaved my head.  In the land of Gandhi, one should look the part.  

All along Sudder Street, people covered in dyed colors passed by, and kids ran tossing colors and shooting water guns.  

I grabbed some lunch in the form of the delicious Calcutta egg roll.  Nothing like a chinese egg roll, a Calcutta egg roll is an omelette with red onions and chilies fried into a chapati, and then rolled up with some chili sauce.  It is delicious, and something that would make for a good Indian gastrodiplomacy dish to promote.

After lunch, I watched enough of the procession of colors that I decided to join.  I changed into my dingy clothes I brought to get stained, and grabbed my camera.  Then I realized I forgot my camera charger.  It is in my camera bag, which I didn't bring this trip. And the battery is dying.  It should not be too hard to find another battery, but it is a stupidity tax I will have to bear.  

Anyway, I joined the giant color and water fight.  There was dancing to a percussive beat as people tossed dyes at each other.  I was smeared in blue and pink to the point my face was covered.  I gave some kids piggy back rides as we followed the colored procession.  We gathered and danced as kids tried to climb up to reach a bowl stringed across a line, which they had to break like a pinata.

I stuck around until the fun died down.  Tomorrow is the big day for Holi, but the pre-partying is fun too.

I also realized that the dye does not come off easily, and I had to buy a bar of soap to scrub it off my face.  It still has not come off, and all the Indians I pass on the street stare at me, and smile and wish me a Happy Holi.

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