A Train Ride Home

September 14, 2010

There are few things I enjoy more than watching the Indian countryside go by from my train window, a mix of village dwellings, rice paddies, and raw jungle. Smoggy factories and muddy rivers too. The chandani of the full moon watched over me as I slept. The train provides meals, tea, and a morning copy of The Indian Times, so needless to say I am happy as a clam.

The Hindu calendar is based on the lunar calendar. There are several calendars that vary slightly by region. Every month is 28-30 days, and begins at the day of the new moon. There are twelve months per year, named after the zodiac signs.  The Indian ancients had calculated that a year cycle was 360 days, with an extra month every five years.  Now the Western calendar is used more prevalently, but many Indians will at least know at least the date of their birthdays in both the Indian and western calendars.

Nights of no moon and full moon are considered auspicious. Two mornings ago I took prashad with the Aroras of milk, fruit and a sweet mixture that is sort of like ground cookie crumbs, only more sugar and less cookie. They eat this every full moon period.

Vikas and Arti Arora

I said goodbye to the Aroras for the second time; more gracious hosts I could not have asked for. I reached Pondy late last night and was happy to come to work today and be reunited with all of my colleagues. Today was an especially good day to return, as there was a delicious South Indian feast organized by some of the society staff. We all ate on the floor off of platters of banana leaves. Home sweet home.



Delhi Downpour Delays the Day

Sept 11, 2011

I was supposed to catch a train back to Chennai two days ago, but the weather had other plans. Even though I left about an hour and a half early, it was not enough. On the day of my departure, Delhi received 60.6 mm of rain in one day. The drains could not handle the influx and streamed out onto freeways, causing major traffic jams all over the city. It is monsoon season after all, and many other regions in the country are flooding, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.  

(The Hindu)

Kaushal and Aishwarya at the Society canceled my ticket and got me a new one for September 13th, the earliest one available. Many thanks to them. So I have been hanging at the Arora’s getting a much needed opportunity to start writing the guidebook for the Alternative Winter Break trip.

Today I also sent prayers to the families of Americans lost in 9/11. It is strange that ten years have already gone by. I was 13, and at the time it seemed so far away, 3,000 miles lay between me and the smoking chaos. But I do not doubt that it has been a gruesome symbol of the last decade’s wear on my generation. We have grown up in the shadow of no towers, a shadow that has left a hole where hope should be, no jobs, no end to the wars, no plans to protect the earth. For many, both the quest for God and love of country seem laughingly impossible.  I resent their apathy, but I don’t blame them. Being the change you wish to see is hard work. Will it be rewarded? It is safer to survive in the insulated world of frapuccinos, our perennial earbuds drowning out the dark noise. I am hard on my generation because I do not give up on them.